The Ministry of State Counsellor Office organized a video press briefing yesterday with local and foreign media about the internal issues and the government’s handling of them.
Director-General U Zaw Htay spoke on the new 17 imported cases of COVID-19 from India, climbing the figure up to 224, while a total of 130 persons have been recovered from the disease and 122 persons have been discharged from the hospitals despite the death toll of 6; the National Central Committee for Prevention, Control and Containment of COVID-19 has issued an announcement to extend announcements, orders and directives of 28 May to 15 June.
The Ministry of Health and Sports removed the Stay Home restrictions from Bahan, South Okkalapa, Pabedan and Tamway townships of Yangon Region on 28 May, and the central committee also issued an announcement for the Union-level organizations, region/state governments and Nay Pyi Taw Council to resume daily duties of their staff commencing 1 June in line with the rules and regulations of the Ministry of Health and Sports; and to arrange ferry buses with only the half number of staff for each trip to ensure social distancing.
Local and foreign journalists raised questions about Myanmar’s recent report to ICJ, legal actions against the responsible person in the Victoria case, ongoing and possible actions on holding a religious festival at the Botahtaung pagoda, situations of Myanmar citizens who were detained after participating in the Islam religious event in India, removal of squatters from the place where fire broke out in Sittway Township and assassination of ward administrative officer, investigation of arson attacks on the houses in Letkar village in MraukU Township, the warning of AA to remove all the administrative sectors and armed forces from Rakhine State, the COVID-19 assistance of Tatmadaw to the control areas ethnic armed groups, aid for internally displaced persons in northern Shan State, the amount of COVID-19 relief aid to public in the next round of assistance, the time for distribution and norms for selecting targeted people, detailed plans for reopening of school, plans for easing restrictions beginning 1 January, relocation of Kyauktalon IDP camp in Kyaukpyu Township, repatriation programme for Myanmar citizens from foreign countries, the latest purchase of helicopter, negotiations with ethnic armed organizations for holding peace conference, criticism of the government’s handling of the COVID-19, shares of former military personnel in the military-owned businesses, preparation or holding the 2020 General Election and expenditures of loans for peace and development of ethnic areas.
In answering the questions, the Director-General said that it was reported that three police officers who are mainly responsible for investigating the Victoria case have been suspended from promotion; Myanmar citizens who took part in an Islamic religious event were intercepted by the Gaya immigration authorities, while trying to board a relief flight to Yangon, they were charged with the laws on communicable disease, natural disaster management and tourism, as they were detained at a hotel in Gaya, the India authorities also filed legal actions against the six religious leaders who organized the event, hundreds of persons from 34 countries are also facing legal actions in this case, the Myanmar embassy will closely watch the case of 22 Myanmar citizens and report back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Myanmar.
As regards the government’s measure in solving the problems of Kyauktalon IDP camp, the DG said the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement is the organization mainly responsible for the Kyauktalon IDP camp. The country is drawing a strategy in connection with the IDP camps, and consultation is carried out with the involvement of international organizations. The National Plan Strategy covering the whole country has been drawn, and the drawing of the region/state-wise action plan is underway.
He said, because of the regional diversity, a pilot program was first launched. IDPs staying at the Kyauktalon IDP camp have arrived there since 2012. It is a Closing Action Plan of the IDP camps in Rakhine State. Consultation was carried out by Union Minister Dr Win Myat Aye and Chief Minister U Nyi Pu with the aim of conducting the resettlement programme after the consultation is done by the Union Minister and the Chief Minister level. Some want to return home. Normally, resettling them at their native place is a better idea. But we must study the situation. The plan is to arrange a better home for them. The Ministry of Border Affairs has already explained the matter at the parliament. Embankment is required, as without the embankment land reclamation will have to be done again in the rainy season. Such delays may cause misunderstanding among some IDPs. We will not use force in the resettlement programme. If the land reclamation is stopped, there will be inundation in the rainy season, and it may cause too much loss for the country. So, we are trying to complete the work. Officials of the Ministry of SWRR and Rakhine State government will carry out consultation again at the place. Moreover, the officials will meet with the IDPs and look into their requirements and help them overcome their fears.
The Kyauktalon camp is important as it is a pilot project, and the adoption of the action plan will be based on the lessons gained from the pilot project. According to our knowledge, some IDPs want to move to a new place and others want to stay at the camp. Only few IDPs want to return to their native place, as some had already sold their land. So, there will be no forced resettlement. The Ministry of SWRR will take coordinated measures.
The DG said the State leaders are giving guidance for the observance of the Union Peace Conference: 21st Century Panglong. The Government and the EAOs, the signatories to NCA, have held meetings for two times, apart from holding frequent informal meetings. According to the consent, the part (3) of the Union Agreement will be signed at the conference. There will be three phases in signing the part. The NCA implementation framework includes 10 agreed points. They are agreed by the both sides. Another ten points are still under negotiations. Of them, an accord for four or five points can be reached between the Government and the EAOS through sharing views.
The stage by stage work programmes for post-2020 elections and phase by phase implementation work have eight major topics. Seven of them have been agreed and the last one is the security issue. The Tatmadaw and the Government want to proceed under the topic “security reconciliation”. So it is still under negotiations.
The State Counsellor in her keynote speech at the fourth anniversary of the NCA said that the policy for the establishment of a federal had five points. EAOs have already accepted them, and the government has also agreed the points and made a proposal to present them. The EAOs also agreed the five points as the ones so supportive for the federal. The government had raised the issue of holding the Union Peace Conference: 21st Century Panglong. The Union Election Commission has already said that the elections will be held in the coming November. UEC designated the three-month pre-election period as the campaign period. According to the proposal, the conference will not be held later than July. The representatives to the conference will be invited five days ahead of the conference.
The country will send a passenger plane to Chiang Mai where the majority of EAOs leaders live in coordination with the Thai government. A direct Nay Pyi Taw-Tachilek flight has also been proposed. 150 representatives of the Government and the parliament, 150 representatives of the Tatmadaw, 150 representatives of political parties group, 150 representatives of EAOs, 50 essential representatives and 50 representatives of ethnic groups attended the previous conference. A proposal has been made to limit the number of representatives to one third of the number of the previous conference.
The opening ceremony will be held at MICC-2 where seating arrangement will be under the social distancing guidelines. The important UPDJC and JMC meetings will be held at the MICC-1. MICC-1 is more spacious. A six-foot space can be arranged between one seat and another. The most important meetings will be held at the MICC-2 and the signing ceremony and the opening ceremony will be held at MICC-1. The issue has been proposed to the EAOs. The points of the part (3) of the Union Agreement will be discussed between the Government and the EAOs in June. Programmes are underway to call UPDJC and JICM meetings, which will be followed by the conference. The coming conference is important as some changes might occur in the part of Tatmadaw after 2020, and the situation of the government depends of the election results. As uncertainty might appear in relaying the results reaped from the ongoing discussions during the five years, it is required to reach an inclusively acceptable ground. EAOs and Tatmadaw will remain as participants, but there might be changes in the government. The representatives of the elected government will take part in the negotiations. The peace process can be continued if an accord is reached on its continued implementation after 2020 as stated in the Union Agreement, through thorough discussions. It is an important issue and an essential task for the Government, the Tatmadaw, the EAOs and the political parties. Another factor is that the conference and the general elections are the inevitable process for the national cause, peace process and federal building.
As regards the involvement of retired Tatmadaw officers in the list of directors of the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, the DG said the director-general of Customs Department and the managing director of Myanma Port Authority have been included in the list of directors since the establishment of the UMEHL. But we have the knowledge about it only now. The relevant ministries also know about the matter only at present. But according the ministries, the two officials have never attended the BOD meetings. But legal assessment of the case will be made after reviewing it and the legal counsel is sought from the Attorney General’s Office. —Kyaw Han Aung (Translated by Aung Khin & TMT)