Myanmar’s new social affairs chief had just six days’ notice before his appointment — one of a legion of newcomers from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party whose credentials will be sorely tested by the massive reconstruction job left by military rule.

Sitting among suitcases and boxes as he prepares to move to his ministerial mansion, Win Myat Aye vowed to quickly get across his new brief at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

“Not only is the expectation of the people high but also our leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s expectations. We must try hard. We must sacrifice,” he told AFP.

But commitment alone may not be enough to appease a public hungry for change after 50 years of eviscerating military rule.

Millions voted for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party in November’s historic election.

After years waiting in the wings, the NLD now takes centre stage.

But its capacity to rule will also fall under the spotlight.

Despite being a former rector of a university of medicine and a veteran of grassroots welfare projects, Win Myat Aye has not previously held a top government post.

Like many of his colleagues he will inherit a junta-era ministry — many of which are notorious for inefficiency and corruption.

His ministry handles the response to the many natural disasters that strike the country.

“We have projects that will take 100 days, ones that will take six months and others that will take a year. We are going to make practical changes, not just draft policies,” he said.

– Opportunity knocks –

On Wednesday Barack Obama, the US president, hailed the “extraordinary” power handover from Myanmar’s army to the first civilian government in half a century.

The congratulatory words came hours after Suu Kyi’s proxy, HtinKyaw, was sworn in as the new president.

But it was tempered with caution for a nation facing “significant challenges going forward”.

Those include boosting economic growth, healing bitter ethnic and religious conflicts and establishing the rule of law over entrenched interest groups who dominate natural resources, industry and land ownership.

Since reforms began in 2011, life has begun to improve for ordinary people.

Myanmar now has one of the world’s fastest growing economies and a youthful population of 51 million eagerly grasping new opportunities.

But the resource-rich nation remains one of the poorest in the region.

The new cabinet of 18 ministers, which includes three uniformed soldiers has raised eyebrows.

Most of its members are over 60 and older, while Suu Kyi is the only woman.

She has also scooped up four ministerial posts — a major workload that will see her take charge of foreign affairs, the president’s office, energy and education.

“Even one portfolio in Myanmar is a challenge,” European Union ambassador Roland Kobia told AFP.

“But on the other hand I think nobody knows this country as well as her and nobody got the support in the elections that she got.”

Suu Kyi has already warned her party colleagues that public scrutiny will intensify for elected lawmakers — though the embarrassing revelation earlier this month that the NLD’s candidate for finance minister had a fake PhD did not preclude him from the job.

Her ministers have already been told they must fork out for their own renovations of their offices or ministries.

But Win Myat Aye remains undaunted, buoyed by the immense pride at his appointment and the importance of the work ahead.

“Serving as a minister… is a huge opportunity for me because people want change. They have placed their hopes in a people’s government,” he said.

Link: http://www.mizzima.com/news-domestic/myanmar%E2%80%99s-untested-new-ministers-handed-huge-rebuilding-job