RANGOON — National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi has sought to assuage concerns over her plans to reform Burma’s creaking bureaucracy, promising that those aligned with the military or the current government would not be discriminated against by her administration.
The NLD won a landslide victory in the Nov. 8 general election, and is all but certain to form a government at the end of March after securing a majority in both houses of Union Parliament. In its campaign manifesto, the party pledged to streamline the 36 ministries in order to “decrease expenditure and establish a lean and efficient government.”
There are more than 90 ministers and deputy ministers under the current administrative arrangements of the Thein Sein government, most of whom are retired military personnel. The 2008 Constitution mandates that the commander-in-chief of the Burma Armed Forces is responsible for the appointment of the Border Affairs, Home Affairs and Defense ministries.
At a Thursday meeting in Naypyidaw—attended by Union Parliament speaker Shwe Mann, parliamentary officials, NLD MPs and a number of government employees—Suu Kyi sought to calm the nerves of senior ministry bureaucrats, while warning that those working in the public sector would need to improve their performance.
“Employees do not need to be worried,” she said. “Slashing the workforce is not our policy. Even if you are incompetent, we will help you improve. Don’t be afraid of NLD lawmakers, as they won because of your votes.”
Flagging the merger of some ministries, Suu Kyi added that government workers would be treated fairly regardless their past ties to the military or the previous government led by the Union Solidarity and Development Party.”
“If you want opportunity, you have to take responsibility, too. There will be no discrimination. Government employees don’t need to be afraid of us,” she said.