The Burmese president has proposed the establishment of two new government departments, which he named as a Ministry of International Cooperation and a Ministry of Union Government Office.
On behalf of President Htin Kyaw, the union attorney-general today submitted a proposal to the pyidaungsu hluttaw – Burma’s bicameral parliament comprising both the Upper and Lower Houses – to form the two ministries, along with a recommendation that current Deputy Foreign Minister Kyaw Tin be appointed to head the new Ministry of International Cooperation while National Security Advisor Thaung Tun take over as Minister of the Union Government Office.
Thaung Tun was previously director-general of political affairs at the Foreign Ministry from 2001 to 2005, and is a former ambassador to the Philippines, Belgium, Netherlands and the European Union. He was appointed National Security Advisor in January 2017.
Attorney-General Tun Tun Oo explained to parliament that the two new ministers would help the government succeed in its mandate, and that the new ministries would work in direct cooperation with existing government departments.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will liaise and work with the International Cooperation Ministry,” he said. “Also, staff for these new ministries will be brought in from the President’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
The bicameral parliament is scheduled to debate and vote on the proposal this Thursday.
Ye Tun, a former Upper House MP and political analyst, told DVB that the portfolio of a future minister of international cooperation would appear similar to that of the foreign affairs minister, and that he or she would take on some of the responsibilities of that ministry.
“[State Counsellor and foreign Minister] Aung San Suu Kyi has a lot of responsibilities,” he said. “That’s why she is transferring some tasks to Kyaw Tin. If Kyaw Tin were to be appointed as minister of foreign affairs, she would have to give up her position as a member the National Defense and Security Council.”
According to Section 201 of the Constitution, the National Defense and Security Council should consist of 11 members, one of whom is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Military representatives hold six seats in the Council.
Ye Tun added that he believed a Ministry of Union Government Office would in effect be a “Ministry of the President’s Office (2)”.
Under the present system, Burma has 22 ministries, three of which –Home Affairs, Defence, and Border Affairs – have ministers and deputy-ministers appointed by the military.
Under the former administration headed by President Thein Sein, the Cabinet had a total of 36 ministries. As part of a pledge to reduce that number, the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led administration dissolved or merged several departments.
Also this morning, President Htin Kyaw submitted a motion in parliament to set up an Anti-Corruption Commission with current Peace Commission Advisory Team Chairman Aung Kyi as its chairman. The proposal also recommended former police chief Zaw Win be a member of the new commission.
Aung Kyi was a minister of labour and later minister of information for the Thein Sein government. He was also appointed as liaison minister for relations to Aung San Suu Kyi during that term.
“I don’t understand why the NLD is still bringing in former government officials to lead these importance commissions,” said Ye Tun.