September 23, 2017

Ministries clarify undertakings in first 100 days

Officials of the ministries hold the press conference.
Officials of the ministries hold the press conference.

A press conference took place in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday in connection with the government’s undertakings in its 100-day plan.
Deputy Director General U Zaw Htay of the Ministry of the State Counsellor’s Office responded to queries relating to the appointment of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as head of an advisory commission for the human rights situation in Rakhine State.
The establishment of the commission with foreign experts has drawn criticism from the media, prompting some political parties to issue statements expressing concern over national security.
According to U Zaw Htay, the said commission is one step away from becoming official. The signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of the State Counsellor’s Office and the Kofi Annan Foundation will make the advisory commission official, with the official saying that the MOU is now in the hands of the Office of the Attorney General.
The deputy director general stressed the need to consider what kind of person the former UN chief was. Kofi Annan initiated the Millennium Development Goal as UN Secretary General and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. He headed the UN for two consecutive terms. U Zaw Htay said the Nobel Peace laureate had nothing to do with the Syrian issue and the destruction of religious structures in Afghanistan, which he described as the consequences of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The Advisory Commission will be formed with nine members- six local experts and three foreign experts. The members of the commission are selected according to the four criteria, which include impartiality, respectability, know-how and reputation.
In connection with the inclusion of foreign experts in the commission, U Zaw Htay stressed the depth, sensitivity and broadness of the Rakhine issue, adding that this required a review of what and how the international community would assess the matter.
The commission will have a mandate to submit their findings and suggestions to the government through the State Counsellor.
The government formed a Committee for Peace, Stability and Development in Rakhine State chaired by the State Counsellor herself, with the official saying that the developmental undertakings in the region cannot avoid the involvement of international organisations, including the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The Advisory Commission will have the responsibility to guarantee the safety and basic human rights of the Rakhine people, provide humanitarian aid and development services, take preventive measures against conflict, initiate reconciliation, undertake humanitarian infrastructure projects, and review the backgrounds of overseas refugees and their countries of origin.
Regarding the commission’s possible push for the government to accept the sometimes called ‘Bengali’ community against the Citizenship Law of 1982, U Zaw Htay said the government is to work in line with the State Constitution and existing laws.
The government has not the divine right to grant citizenship to the community in question with no regard for the Citizenship Law of 1982, he said, adding that the advisory commission has no mandate to force the government to undertake all of its suggestions.
According to him, the Rakhine State Conflict Investigation Commission under the previous government came up with 59 suggestions in significant areas, including economy, health, education and peaceful coexistence between the two communities.
In respect to the Myitsone dam, Deputy Director General U Zaw Htay said the commission was still engaged in the compilation of a report on the hydropower project. He hinted that some terms of the contract considered fit for public observation would be released on completion of the report.
During a press conference, Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr Myint Htway said that 72 per cent of 31 projects set to be completed under the ministry’s 100-day plan were completed, adding that 37 of 68 projects set by the ministry will be carried out after the plan.
The ministry sought the government’s approval on the proposed appointment of 1,768 fresher doctors and 84 dentists, provided primary healthcare to rural people through the opening of community clinics and launched a school health program in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, said the Union minister.
He added that works are underway to review disaster mitigation and response measures, increase immunisation coverage and provide new vaccines to children under five.
Moreover, the ministry drafted a five-year plan to improve health information systems, organised occupational health and worksite safety courses, carried out workplace inspections, preventive measures against hospital infection and curriculum revision and development for undergraduate and postgraduate students of medical schools and established an ambulance system for emergency care on Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw-Mandalay expressway and a reception service at 100-bedded hospitals and above.
Next, Deputy Director-General U Zaw Htay of the State Counsellor’s Office said that 83 political prisoners were granted amnesty and courts across the country dropped charges against those facing trails over cases in connection with politics.
Regarding internal peace, the Myanmar Peace Centre was transformed into the National Reconciliation and Peace Center and a Central Committee on Implementation of Peace and Stability and Development in Rakhine State was formed.
In accordance with the guidance given by the State Counsellor, arrangements are being made to draft a law to curb hate speech by the Ministry of Religious and Cultural Affairs and a political dialogue framework was reviewed to enable NCA non-signatory groups to join the country’s peace process.
Moreover, a commission to review hydropower projects on Ayeyawady River was formed, added the deputy director-general.
He added that the State Counsellor held talks with donor community to create a donor coordination mechanism last week and works are underway to establish joint mechanism involving donors, stakeholders and the government.
Then, Director-General U Tint Thwin of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism elaborated on the country’s tourism sector including human resources development programmes, issuance of hotel and tour guide licenses, relaxation of restriction on license fee and e-license application.
The ministry recently launched a Facebook page to heighten public awareness of disasters in the aftermath of earthquake in Bagan, he added.
Next, Deputy Director-General U L Too Main Gaung of the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs said that the ministry is committed to ensuring protection of rights of ethnic people.
Formation of the new ministry was about 90 per cent complete and is slated for completion on 16 September, said the deputy director-general, adding that the minister’s office and head offices of the ministry’s two departments are expected to be completed this fiscal year while region/state offices of the two departments next fiscal year and the 2016-2017 budget was approved by the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.


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