Two Tanintharyi Ministers Resign in Wake of Chief Minister's Arrest

By San Yamin Aung 21 March 2019

YANGON — Two Tanintharyi Region ministers tendered their resignations in the wake of Chief Minister Daw Lei Lei Maw’s arrest and firing over corruption allegations earlier this month.

The President’s Office announced on Wednesday that the region’s planning and finance minister, U Phyo Win Tun, and electricity and energy minister, U Kyi Hlaing, were “allowed to resign” from their posts.

While the announcement gave no reason for the resignations, many believe they were linked to the corruption investigation.

Daw Lei Lei Maw was arrested on March 10 along with Global Grand Services (GGS) Managing Director U Thein Htwe, Director U Aung Myat and General Manager U Thura Ohn under corruption charges. The cases were opened against all four by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) at the Dawei Myoma Police Station in Tanintharyi after a month-long investigation.

U Ye Myint Swe, a regional lawmaker, said U Phyo Win Tun was named in the complaint that locals had sent the ACC and the President’s Office earlier this year about the chief minister.

In the complaint, more than 100 residents of Myeik and Dawei districts called for an investigation of Daw Lei Lei Maw, U Phyo Win Tun and the National League for Democracy’s Tanintharyi committee chair, U Aung Soe.

During State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to the region last month, local residents demanded that all three be replaced because of corruption and nepotism. The state counselor vowed to take decisive action against officials who harm the public interest.

U Ye Myint Swe said U Kyi Hlaing was not named in the complaint. But the lawmaker said he believed the minister resigned because he was mostly responsible for awarding an electricity distribution project to GGS that was part of the corruption investigation.

“It is not possible that he doesn’t know about the contract because he is the electricity minister. Whether it was done intentionally or unintentionally, I think he resigned because of that,” he said.

The ACC said Daw Lei Lei Maw abused her position by awarding several contracts to GGS in exchange for bribes.

GGS produces electricity from gas purchased from the government. The company owes more than 8 billion kyats ($5.24 million) for gas deliveries between July 2017, when it launched its power supply service, and late 2018.

U Phyo Win Tun and U Kyi Hlaing could not be reached for comment.

One of the local residents who joined the complaint sent to the ACC and President’s Office said he hoped the Anti-Corruption Commission would file more charges but was encouraged by the arrests and resignations so far.

“I am satisfied to see changes in our region,” he said.