Wed 6 Jun 2012
Filed under: Inside Burma
Yangon – Myanmar President Thein Sein has removed two deputy ministers with economically important portfolios in the first significant changes to his quasi-civilian government since it took office 15 months ago, reinforcing speculation a broader cabinet reshuffle to push reforms may be in the works.Tint Lwin of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication and Soe Aung, who held the deputy energy portfolio, have been “allowed to resign from their posts of their own volition”, the president’s office said in an announcement in Wednesday’s state-run newspapers.
The terms “of their own violation” or “for health reasons” are euphemisms used by official media when a minister or senior official is purged.
There was no comment on who would replace them or on the reason for their resignations but a senior ministry official in the administrative capital, Naypyitaw, said it could be part of the president’s drive to court more foreign investment.
“The two ministries they worked at are such important ones for the country … They are teeming with so many keen foreign investors,” said the official who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“The retirement could be part of the president’s plan. I think we can expect some more changes in the cabinet.”
Rumors of a major reshuffle by the reformist president have circulated for the past two months, with speculation rife that as many as five ministers could be sacked for corruption.
That followed media reports in March that a government audit released to parliamentarians had found evidence of rampant graft in six ministries under the former military junta that ruled until last year.
Neither Tint Lwin nor Soe Aung have worked in the ministries in question.
It was the first time Thein Sein, a former senior general, had sacked a minister.
He has persuaded Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to support the suspension of Western sanctions with a series of political reforms that would have been unimaginable during the military’s secretive 49-year rule.
(Editing by Martin Petty and Ed Lane)