USDP Says Taking Key Govt Department Away From Military 'Risky'

By Htet Naing Zaw 28 December 2018

NAYPYITAW — A spokesman for the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) said the civilian government’s plans to place the General Administration Department (GAD) under its control could leave key government operations worse off.

“I would say the move is risky if it is done with the intention to free [the GAD] from the control of the commander-in-chief of defense services,” U Nanda Hla Myint told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

“Some complain that the current government is doing it in preparation to win the 2020 [general election],” he added.

President’s Office spokesman U Zaw Htay said last week that the GAD would soon be transferred to the Ministry of the Office of the Union Government.

U Nanda Hla Myint said the GAD, central to much of the government’s day-to-day operations, will function less effectively if moved out of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The department has been a charge of the Home Affairs Ministry — one of three run by the military as per the constitution the then-ruling junta adopted in 2008 — for the past 30 years.

Former President U Thein Sein had considered transferring the GAD to the Ministry of the President’s Office during the previous, USDP-led administration but ultimately decided the idea was unrealistic, said U Nanda Hla Myint.

“The current government also needs to consider the possibility of conflict of procedure and conflict of law. But if the move is aimed at [benefitting] the interests of the country, improving governance and cleaning up the administrative system, we have nothing to say,” he added.

“So for the time being it is difficult to say if the decision is right or wrong. But it is not good for the country if it is done with the wrong intention, as I have said. We will know if it is a good or bad move depending on the outcome.”

In an interview with Mizzima on Thursday, Mandalay Region Chief Minister U Zaw Myint Maung argued that the Home Affairs Ministry would keep other important departments such as the special branch, police, corrections and special investigations and that the President’s Office had to run the GAD at the very least to do its job properly.

“The GAD is involved in all aspects of administration. The township administrator is the chairman of all the [government] committees in a township. Only when that administration is under the control of the president can it be overseen by the chief minister. Only then can a carrot and stick policy be implemented,” he said.

Myanmar’s jurisdictions can generally be divided in descending order of size into regions and states, districts, townships, wards, village tracts and villages.

The Ministry of the Office of the Union Government is one of the new ministries created by the current administration. A retired colonel and former pilot for the Burma Air Force, U Min Thu, was appointed its new minister in November.

U Zaw Htay said U Min Thu was appointed knowing that the GAD would soon be put under his supervision.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.