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The director-general of state-run Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) and former head of Burma’s censorship board, Tint Swe, has been appointed permanent secretariat of the Ministry of Information as the government moves ahead with its decision to create the permanent secretariat positions at government ministries.
Speaking to DVB, Pike Htwe, the deputy-minister of information, said, “We have appointed U Tint Swe as the permanent secretariat and his mandate involves supervising and coordinating operations within the ministry to ensure a steady and more effective work flow. The cabinet has to be replaced every five years, so it is necessary to have a permanent secretariat who can continue to supervise and direct operations within the ministry.”
Tint Swe, one of the first permanent secretariats appointed during President Thein Sein’s tenure, which began in 2011, is a former army major and previously held the position of deputy-director at the Information and Communications Department and as director of the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (commonly known as the censorship board).
Pho Thaukkyar, a veteran journalist and deputy-chairman of the Myanmar Interim Press Council, said appointing Tint Swe as the permanent secretariat of the Ministry of Information would allow for a better relationship between media workers and the ministry.
“It is unlikely that appointing [former] Maj. Tint Swe will be controversial with journalists and media workers. He was previously posted at the censorship board, although he will not necessarily be doing the same job as before. His mandate is to ensure smooth operations within the ministry’s command structure and having him in this position will improve relations between the ministry and media workers,” said Pho Thaukkyar. “If we can approach the secretariat on certain issues – that would have previously gone through the minister – then that would be much more convenient.”
Eleven of Burma’s more than 30 government ministries, including the ministries of information, defence, trade and commerce, health, industry, and forestry and environmental conservation, on 10 April went ahead with a government initiative to appoint permanent secretariats in spite of objections by some MPs who raised concerns about the overabundance of senior official positions within ministries.
The permanent secretariat positions also existed in the post-independence Burmese government in the 1950s when late UN Secretary-General U Thant served as the information secretariat.