Home Insider Insider Review Where are All the Ex’s?

Where are All the Ex’s?

Myanmar’s former President Thein Sein was recently back in the public when he made a trip to Japan to receive the Grand Prize at Asia Cosmopolitan Awards granted for his contributions to the country’s reform efforts through leadership of a transition to democracy. A large number of people crowded at the airport to greet and cheer their award-wining ex-President upon his return. With Thein Sein, some of the members of his Administration such as former Minister for Immigration and Population Khin Yi and former Minister for Rail Transport Than Htay also came back to public’s sight, since a group of topflight members of the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) saw off and welcomed back Thein Sein on his departure and homecoming.

It is infrequent for people to physically see members of Thein Sein’s First Administration since they left office in April 2016. And it is also rare to hear them in the news. But Thein Sein is sometimes found in the public during his local trips. And the ex-President lately grabbed public attention again when social media users shared posts about his paying-homage visit to a venerable Buddhist monk. He was also in the limelight immediately after his departure from office when he briefly entered the religious order on the day he turned into a normal citizen from a State chief. Among the members of Thein Sein Administration, former Minister for Rail Transport Than Htay is now taking responsibility as the chairperson of the USDP following Thein Sein’s abdication from the chair in August 2016. Thein Sein remains a Patron of the party. Than Htay was appointed as Minister for Energy from March 2011 to July 2013 prior to his appointment as Minister for Rail Transport. Major General Myat Hein, the retired Commander-in-Chief (Air) of Myanmar, is now the Vice-Chairman of the USDP. Myat Hein retired from military to become Minister for Communications and Information Technology from February 2013 to August 2015. Another high-ranking military personnel Thet Naing Win, who served as the Minister for Border Affairs from February 2013 to August 2015, is now serving as the Secretary-General of the USDP. He became the Minister for Border Affairs when Thein Sein made a reshuffle of his Administration in September 2012.

Soe Thane, former Minister for President’s Office in Thein Sein Cabinet serving along with other four peer ministers, became a parliamentarian for the second time in Myanmar’s national-level legislature Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Assembly of the Union) following his victory in November 2015 general elections. Soe Thane, who once wrote current affairs and opinion articles in regional media reflecting Thein Sein Administration’s commitment and actions, was elected for Amyotha Hluttaw (House of Nationalities – Upper House) from Kayah State constituency 9. Before Thein Sein appointed him as a Union Minister, Soe Thane was a legislator in Pyithu Hluttaw (House of Representatives – Lower House) from January 2011 to March 2011.

Before serving as Minister for President’s Office, Soe Thane was appointed as Minister for Industry from June 2008 to August 2012. The retired Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Navy contested the November 2015 elections as an individual candidate; a move that surprised most of the people who expected to see him running the polls representing the USDP. Soe Thane also served as the chair for Myanmar Investment Commission from 2010 to 2013.

Ex-minister for Information Ye Htut has proved himself to be an avid social networker since his retirement from government office. Ye Htut regularly spreads news concerning the central government and the military, and expresses his opinions about the administration and societal issues through his official account on the social network platform, pocketing a nickname ‘Facebook minister’ for his persistent use of Facebook.

Ye Htut, a widely-known member of the USDP, served as the Minister for Information from August 2014 to March 2016. He did not take part in November 2015 elections like some other former ministers in Thein Sein Administration. He is now a visiting senior fellow at Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

It is hard to know for the general public where the former ministers in Thein Sein Administration are and what are they doing beacuse most of them are not active in media. And it is perceived that, excepting a few of those like Ye Htut, many of the ex-ministers do not seek communication channels to be in touch with the public.

The USDP members themselves make few publicity and show little movement as the largest opposition political force to the ruling NLD (National League for Democracy) party. Right now, they are too silent like not a major political party. But, party chairperson Than Htay lately raised his voice over State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s alleged plan to accept the so-called repatriation of Bengalis from Bangladesh. In addition to making media comments on the issue, Than Htay joined senior representatives from other political parties to release a signature statement as a response to the supposed plan of taking back a sizeable number of Bengalis which Dhaka said has fled from Myanmar. Yangon Pandita INSIDER REVIEW 31 WWW.MYANMARINSIDE