Public Demands Transparency in Forced Resignation of Kachin Ministers

By Nan Lwin 22 January 2019

YANGON—More than three dozen community-based organizations in Kachin State made a collective demand for transparency on Tuesday following the abrupt forced resignations of three ministers from Kachin State cabinet, calling on the state’s chief minister for an explanation for the dismissals which are not in line with official procedures.

“It happened suddenly. We citizens have a right to know the reasons and to know clearly what they have done wrong,” Hkawng Nan, a representative of the Transparency and Accountability Network Kachin, told The Irrawaddy.

The community-based organizations have pointed out that the dismissals shocked and annoyed local people and give rise to a distrust in the government’s peace process and the national reconciliation process.

On Friday and Monday, the Kachin Chief Minister U Khet Aung ordered three ministers to resign from their positions—the only explanation given being that the instruction came from the State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The three Kachin State ministers are U Mya Thein, minister for agriculture, livestock and irrigation, U H La Aung, minister for environment and natural resources and U Thin Lwin, minister for social affairs. U Khet Aung suggested that the ministers write “personal health condition” as the reason for their resignations.

While two of the ministers accepted the forced resignation and agreed to write the letter, the outgoing natural resources minister U H La Aung refused, insisting that he would not resign from his post until he knew the reason for the demand. The President’s Office later issued two separate statements—one announcing the retiring of the two ministers and another announcing the dismissal of the third.

All three ministers said they have not been the subject of any complaint letters or corruption reports from the public. Along with the outgoing ministers, critics also pointed out that the dismal was not in line with official procedures—according to the law, an investigation should precede any decision by the state counselor or government.

According to Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution, the minister of a region or state may be impeached for one of the following reason: high treason; breach of any of the provisions of the Constitution; misconduct; disqualification of the chief minister or minister of the region or state as prescribed in the Constitution; or inefficient discharge of their duties as assigned by law.

If there is a need to impeach, a charge signed by not less than one fourth of the total number of representatives in Parliament is supposed to be submitted to the House speaker. The speaker is then supposed to form a team to investigate the charge. If the investigation finds that the minister is unfit to continue in office, the speaker submits the resolution to the president. Upon receipt of the report, the president “shall remove the impeached minister.”

U H La Aung said, “Our party is a democratic party. [The Chief minister] should not force me to sign the resignation letter without letting me know the reason. It could tarnish the NLD’s image and also the government’s image. I have a right to defend myself.”

“I told him (the chief minister) that I need to receive an official letter from above. The order should come through official lines. We have laws and procedures [to follow] if ministers break the law,” he said.

Outgoing minister U Mya Thein said he agreed to sign the resignation letter but is disappointed with not being told the reason, as he also serves as president of the NLD for Kachin State.

U Mya Thein said, “In the party, we have some people who want to remove us from our positions. They also want to take our positions. Our cases involved personal grudges.”

NLD spokesperson U Myo Nyunt told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that he still doesn’t know the detailed reasons for the resignations however, the party will look into the case having received a complaint letter from one of the outgoing ministers.

The community-based organizations had not received a response from the Kachin chief minister by Tuesday afternoon. Hkawng Nan said community-based organizations support U H La Aung for his efforts in law enforcement at the notorious Hpakant jade mines and the China-backed banana plantations in Kachin State.

“He has been doing his job very well. There is no reason to force him to resign from his position,” Hkawng Nan said.