Three Kachin State Ministers Told to Quit ‘on Suu Kyi’s Orders’

By Nan Lwin 21 January 2019

YANGON—The Kachin chief minister has ordered three ministers to resign their positions without giving a reason other than to say that the instruction came from State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, according to one of the ministers.

U Mya Thein, who was the Kachin State Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, told The Irrawaddy he and the other two ministers were forced to resign on Friday.

“The Kachin chief minister said the instruction came from State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He forced me to write a resignation letter as quickly as possible,” U Mya Thein said.

According to Kachin Chief Minister Khet Aung, State Environment and Natural Resources Minister U H La Aung and Minister for Social Affairs Dr. Thin Lwin were the other two forced to resign.

Last week, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited the state capital, Myitkyina, to mark Kachin State Day. All three ministers said they met her during the visit, adding that she had not made any complaint about the ministers’ performance or mentioned complaints from the public.

U Mya Thein said the chief minister suggested he put “personal health condition” as the reason for the resignation in his letter.

U Mya Thein also serves as chairman of the National League for Democracy in Kachin State. He said there had been no complaints or reports of corruption from the public prior to his receiving the order to resign. He said he had sent a complaint letter to the NLD headquarters, as he believed his performance was good and that he had not committed any corruption.

The Kachin chief minister refused to provide any details, but told the media on Monday that he was “exercising the chain of command”, indicating the order had come from above.

NLD spokesperson U Myo Nyunt told The Irrawaddy he could not make any comment, as he had yet to receive any details regarding the resignations of the Kachin ministers. He could not confirm that the decision had come from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But he acknowledged the party had received a complaint letter from U Mya Thein.

The outgoing minister for environment and natural resources, U H La Aung, told The Irrawaddy he had been trying to meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in person in Naypyitaw since the chief minister ordered his resignation. He said that he too had not been the subject of any complaint letters or corruption reports from the public. U H La Aung is recognized as a hard-working minister for his efforts to enforce laws governing the jade mines in Hpakant, which have damaged the environment due to overexploitation for many years.

Dr. Thin Lwin told The Irrawaddy the chief minister called him into his office on Monday morning but he refused to meet him, saying he had unfinished business to attend to, implementing plans for orphans and IDPs in Kachin State.

“I don’t believe the order came from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. I am trying to confirm it. If it is true, I will resign,” Dr. Thin Lwin said.

Upper House Lawmaker for Kachin State U Khin Maung Myint said the Lisu ethnic affairs minister and lawmakers from the upper and lower houses signed a complaint letter and sent it to the President’s Office three months ago asking that action be taken against Dr. Thin Lwin after he made racially discriminatory comments about Kachin IDPs.

“More than 100 Kachin people sent a complaint letter to the President’s Office,” U Khin Maung Myint said.

However, he said, “U H La Aung is as hard-working a person as I have met in the Kachin State cabinet. I am sure people are very satisfied with his work. I have no idea why he is on the list.”

Kachin Peace Network coordinator Khon Ja said U H La Aung’s resignation was a loss to the Kachin government, as his performance had been approved by the public.

According to the 2008 Constitution’s Article 263, the chief minister of a region or state, or any minister, may be impeached for one of the following reasons: 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.

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

U Mya Thein said the Kachin chief minister’s action was totally against the Constitution, as an investigation should precede any decision by the state counselor regarding his removal.

“I have no guilt. I did not do anything wrong. I will continue to seek the reason,” U Mya Thein said.