Myanmar’s Suu Kyi drops two ministerial jobs, takes on spokeswoman role

YANGON: Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi has dropped plans to run two major ministries but will act as spokeswoman for the country’s new president, a ruling party official said on Monday (Apr 4).

Banned from becoming president by the constitution, Suu Kyi has cemented control over the country’s first civilian-led government in decades by taking on a string of senior roles in the new administration.

She has vowed to rule “above” the president, picking school friend and close aide Htin Kyaw for the role.

Lawmakers from her National League for Democracy party are also pressing for a special “state counsellor” position for the Nobel laureate, an appointment that would allow her to liaise between the presidency and parliament.

Last week the NLD said she would take on four cabinet posts – foreign, energy, education and the ministerial position in the president’s office.

But during a parliamentary session on Monday, the NLD put forward two new names for the energy and education portfolios, according to NLD spokesman Win Htein. “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be the spokesperson for the president,” he added, without elaborating on the rejig.

Myo Thein Gyi was appointed as the incoming government’s education minister, while Pe Zin Tun will be taking the energy portfolio.

NLD UNPREPARED?

The move will free up the 70-year-old’s already busy day-to-day responsibilities while reinforcing control over her proxy president Htin Kyaw, but others say the appointments were unexpected and show how disorganised and unprepared the NLD government may be.

“It does raise some questions that if the decision intention was indeed to appoint ministers for two portfolios, why wasn’t this decision announced at the very beginning? It calls to question whether the NLD was indeed ready at that time or whether they were not ready when they announced the first cabinet positions,” The Salween Institute for Public Policy director Saw Kapi told Channel NewsAsia.

The two appointees are known to be former civil servants who have knowledge in their respective sectors of education and energy, and have worked their way up the ranks.

“The top policy-maker will have to make some tough decisions, very important decisions,” said political analyst Khin Maung Zaw. “He or she needs to be very well fed with the facts, what happened previously, what can happen in the future.

“The policy-making will be dependent on the policy elites who are reliable and clued to the policy-makers, so someone who knows … the industry and who are very familiar with the earlier policy could be very helpful.”

Hopes are growing that the newly sworn-in government can accelerate the country’s economic and political rejuvenation after nearly half a century of military rule.

Suu Kyi’s party won a huge mandate at last November’s elections.

But the constitution effectively bans her from the top post as it rules out anyone with foreign-born children or spouses from becoming president. Suu Kyi married and had two sons with a British national.

The military also retains control of the key home, defence and border affairs ministries, while 25 per cent of parliamentary seats are reserved for unelected soldiers.

The military has already balked at the NLD’s plans to make Suu Kyi a “state counsellor” with army MPs in parliament last week saying the move bypasses the constitution. The proposal is likely to sail through the NLD-dominated legislature.

Source: AFP

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