Rangoon authorities quit en masse

Lower-ranking administration officials in 10 Rangoon division wards have resigned from their posts, reportedly in frustration at their maligned reputation among Burmese citizens.

A member of the Ward Peace and Development Council (WPDC) in Thongwa township said that “all chairmen from 10 out of 12 wards in town, except Ward 2 and 9, submitted their resignations”.

“We were hated by people for being part of this organisation but in reality we don’t have power or hold any authority in our positions,” he said. He added that officials were forced to adopt “security measures whenever senior government officials or their wives come here”.

“We have to take action against suspects when bombs explode; we have to go on duty at teashops and get assigned to the nooks and crannies of temples,” he said, referring to a Burmese expression which means areas where drug users and prostitutes reside.

He added that officials were also required to regularly travel to Rangoon to beef up security.

But it was the people’s “mistrust” of the authorities that forced them to “bluntly [resign] from our positions”, he said.

Another WPDC member said that members of Village Peace and Development Councils in Thongwa were also resigning.

“There are 64 villages in Thongwa jurisdiction and officials there are also seeking resignation at the Township Peace and Development Council. But as senior authorities are not accepting this, the TPDC chairman is now in hot water.”

Government authorities in Burma are forced to operate under extreme bureaucracy, with power heavily centralised by the paranoid ruling generals in the capital, Naypyidaw.

Another WPDC member said that low-level authorities are “hated by the people” and “really don’t have any power” but instead act on the orders of the TPDC

He added however that the Thongwa TPDC chairman, Kyaw Thaung, informed them that they could not quit until the end of the upcoming elections this year, but said that they are “still seeking resignation as we don’t want to continue with this job”.

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