Yangon chief minister vows corruption fight

The new chief minister for Yangon region U Phyo Min Thein has promised that his government will clean up corruption over its five-year term.

U Phyo Min Thein, a National League for Democracy MP for Hlegu, was nominated yesterday by President-elect U Htin Kyaw and approved by the Yangon Region Hluttaw without objection.

Speaking to reporters afterward, the new chief minister gave no indication as to when he would form his cabinet, or who would be included.

While vowing that Yangon would become a “no-corruption business city” on his watch – particularly in regard to foreign investment – he also offered few clues as to how this would be achieved.

Among his other priorities, he said, is to take steps to alleviate Yangon’s grinding traffic jams.

“I will form a clean government without any corruption. And we will implement what the people need from us,” he said.

Not all have welcomed the appointment of U Phyo Min Thein, who served as a Pyithu Hluttaw MP from 2012 to 2016 and was on the parliament’s banking committee.

Last week in Yangon, about 1500 people staged a protest accusing him of election violations and his party of shielding him from a legal investigation.

The protest was organised by U Aung Myat Thu, a Union Solidarity and Development Party candidate who lost to U Phyo Min Thein on November 8.

He said yesterday that they will continue demanding U Phyo Myin Thein’s prosecution despite his appointment.

“I don’t care about position he holds. We won’t drop our demands. We will protest against him soon,” U Aung Myat Thu said.

Some have also expressed concern at U Phyo Min Thein’s lack of formal education. The chief minister only completed the second year of a physics degree, as his studies were interrupted by the 1988 protests. After joining the movement, he then spent many years as a political prisoner.

But most reactions have been positive. U Khin Maung Than, general secretary of Yangon Southwest Region Development Association, said that his organisation was “glad and proud” that U Phyo Min Then would become chief minister.

The group is campaigning for the realisation of the Yangon “new city”, a controversial greenfield project slated for farmland on the west bank of the Yangon River, opposite downtown.

 

“We expect that he will help local people who are living in poor conditions on the other side of Kyeemyindaing and will develop the southwest region,” U Khin Maung Than said.

“We like U Phyo Min Thein because based on his experiences and history we believe he will carry out his duties in close cooperation with local residents.

The outgoing chief minister, U Myint Swe – who will be a vice president in the new Union government – has been regularly criticised over the past five years for his close links to prominent businesses and his government’s repeated transparency failures.

Businesses that have undertaken projects with the regional government in recent years said they were ready to work with the new NLD administration.

U Tin Maung Win, the managing director of Capital Development, which won contracts for flyovers from U Myint Swe’s administration, said he expected U Phyo Min Thein would lead a government focused on Yangon’s development.

“If they call tenders or if they offer suggestions, we are ready to work with them. The new government is also our government, regardless of which party it is,” he said.

The non-profit Yangon Heritage Trust said in a statement yesterday it also looked forward to working closely with U Phyo Min Thein and his administration to make Yangon a more attractive and liveable city, with proper urban planning and conservation.

“I’m delighted that Ko Phyo Min Thein will be Yangon’s new chief minister. I am confident he will be a strong supporter of proper urban planning and conservation,” said the group’s chair, U Thant Myint-U.

“The new administration will be taking office at a pivotal moment for Myanmar’s biggest city. There are pressing issues of jobs, basic infrastructure, housing, transport, and public health as well as heritage protection that need to be urgently considered,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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