Burma’s Minister of Livestock Breeding, Fisheries and Rural Development, Ohn Myint, is under fire in Parliament for vile threats to rural residents in Tenasserim and Magwe divisions. An emergency proposal has been submitted for the government to take immediate action.
The former military general and current MP for the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party met with residents of Magwe’s Thityargauk village on 28 January, where he became irate over complaints about access to water. Locals questioned him about ministry plans for assistance to the remote village, which led to the outspoken minister’s tirade.
“I am General Ohn Myint and I’ll dare to slap anyone in the face,” he said. “I will attack anyone who insults the ruling government and if I cannot attack them verbally, I will throw them in jail – this is how it’s done internationally – if you oppose the government, you go to jail and only come out when we’re out of office.”
A 15-minute video of the minister making the remarks quickly went viral among Burmese netizens, who are now calling for his immediate resignation.
“This is my catchphrase: I don’t give a f–k about anyone,” the minister exclaimed in the clip, “remember my name”.
On 3 February, around 30 people gathered in protest at Rangoon’s City Hall imploring the minister to slap them.
The National League for Democracy’s lower house member Aung Soe on 4 February submitted an emergency proposal calling for government action against the minister for the Magwe remarks, as well as a similar rant in Tenasserim’s Kawthaung Township in 25 October last year.
“The minister insulted and threatened to slap villagers at Putonelone village in Tenasserim’s Kawthaung [Township] on 25 October 2013 and again in Magwe on 28 January this year,” Aung Soe told DVB. “He also insulted the Parliament, politicians and parties… this is not a one-time mistake.”
Information Minister Aung Kyi told Parliament that the government will conduct a “fair and thorough” review, which will require “enough time”.
“It’s true that he excessively used words he shouldn’t have, but we assume that his intention was to address the needs of the rural public,” said the minister. “It’s important to consider whether he made the remarks in good faith or in bad.”
The lower house has expressed commitment to monitor the case.
Ohn Myint returned to Thityargauk on Tuesday, where villagers – expecting a public apology – were shocked to find that he was just in town for a meeting.