Thein Sein Makes First Big Administrative Reshuffle

By Reform, Tha Lun Zaung Htet 2 April 2013

RANGOON—Burma’s President Thein Sein has made his first major reshuffle of ministry officials and high-ranking civil servants since coming to power two years ago, as part of administrative reforms to clean up the government.

Six high-ranking officials, including ex-colonels installed as heads of ministry departments by the former military regime, were forced to retire by a presidential order on Friday, while 40 other ministry officials were transferred to posts at other ministries.

“This big reform in civil servants is a first since President Thein Sein’s administration came to power two years ago, and the number of civil servants forced to retire or transferred is quite high,” an official from the President’s Office told The Irrawaddy, asking to remain anonymous.

“Six officials were forced to retire because of mismanagement or corruption,” the official said. “The President’s Office received public complaint letters related to mismanagement and bribery cases, and an investigation followed. Some of the high-ranking civil servants were found guilty. Some were hardliners who didn’t want to make [political] reforms.”

The six officials forced to retire by presidential order included Myat Maw, director-general of the Internal Revenue Department at the Ministry of Finance and Revenue; San Thaung, managing director of Myanma Economic Bank; Kyaw Htoo, director-general of the Trade Department; Aye Ko, director-general of the Department of National Economic Planning and Development; Aung Min, director-general of the Commerce Department; and  Dr. Ni Lar Thein, rector of the University of Computer Studies, Yangon (UCSY).

Thein Sein also transferred 40 officials, including six directors from the Ministry of Commerce and one director from the Ministry of Information, according to the President’s Office official.

Ye Myint, the deputy director-general at the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Bureau of Special Investigation, was transferred to the Ministry of Culture, where he will serve as rector of the University of Culture, Mandalay.

Aye Ko, deputy director-general of the Customs Department, will work at the Ministry of Education as deputy director-general of the department for training and educational projects.

“Most of them [the 40 officials] have been transferred because of mismanagement,” the President’s Office official said. “Before, they held very important positions.”

A member of Thein Sein’s National Economic and Social Advisory Council said the reshuffle suggested the president was serious about cleaning up the government.

Others have been more critical. Phone Myint Aung, a lawmaker from the Upper House of Parliament, urged the government to be more transparent in anti-corruption efforts.

“Last January, the government took action against officials at the Ministry of Telecommunications who were involved in corruption, but they [the government] did not make an official announcement,” he said. “There hasn’t been any transparency in the fight against corruption. If they want success in reform, the government needs transparency.”

Thein Sein in January removed Thein Tun, the minister of telecommunication and information technology, in relation to a corruption case.