Myanmar Ministry Warns Staff to Avoid Politics

Burmese Ministry Warns Staff to Avoid Politics


People sign a petition to amend the Constitution at the office of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society in Rangoon on Tuesday. (Photo: Hein Htet / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Burma’s minister of agriculture and irrigation told ministry staff members to stay away from politics just one day before the country’s biggest opposition party launched a signature campaign for constitutional amendments.

The minister made the directive during a meeting in Naypyidaw on Monday, before the National League for Democracy (NLD) began collecting signatures on Tuesday to support charter reform, according to an official from the ministry’s Department of Agriculture.

“He said government staff must not participate in political movements, public speeches or campaigns, nor can they give opinions or vote in such campaigns,” the official told The Irrawaddy on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said the minister warned staff members that anyone who participated in political movements would do so at their own risk.

The next day, the ministry’s director-general allegedly issued the same warning in a letter, while also calling staff members on the telephone to reinforce the message, the official from the Department of Agriculture said.

The head of an agricultural training school run by the ministry also made a similar warning to staff, according to a letter with his signature which was posted on Facebook. In the letter, he urged ministry staff not to participate in public polls by any political party, while suggesting there could be consequences for doing so.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, an activist group, have teamed up to collect signatures from hundreds of supporters across the country in support of constitutional reform.

Civil servants have been banned from participating in politics since the former military regime. Some civil servants today complain that continuing restrictions on their participation indicate there has been little change under President Thein Sein’s government.

“They never want to change and they are afraid of change. We, civil servants are at their [the government’s] mercy, and that’s why they always want to control us,” said a medical practitioner who currently works at Yangon General Hospital in Rangoon. “Whether there’s a warning or not, we are afraid.”

She added, “My friends, my family and I already signed the petition. I believe civil servants need to serve the country, and signing the petition is a different way to serve the country apart from our regular duties.”

10 Responses to Burmese Ministry Warns Staff to Avoid Politics

  1. Why Myanmar gov: is still behaving as before. Gov: servants are highly authorized people to serve and change and shape their own country and therefore, they must be respected their views and must given free will to vote for the betterment of the country rather seeing them as “this is my servant and subjected to be abused by the gov: On the other hand, Burmese gov: has not realized that they abuse their own staff and people. People are not respected yet by them yet. In that case why did they lie to US and people around the world that they want to change the system giving false hope to the people in the country but also people around the world.

  2. Well, isn’t the minister doing politics himself?
    Doesn’t his instruction amount to doing politics in favor of his party and his origin, the military?
    The trouble is these people don’t seem to consider and realize what they are saying and doing.
    Besides, the minister should answer this question:
    Doesn’t a government employee have the right to freedom of thought and belief, and the right to action according to his conscience?
    I remember their urging to government employees to participate in total politics when situation was in their favor.
    And this question: Aren’t the judges and police, and other government employees carry out orders as given down by the regional and local administrative chiefs, who defy the rule of law, but follow orders in favor of the military or the USDP. How about the President, the C-in-C and the Union Election Commission Chairman? Haven’t they been doing politics, particularly their talks and actions against the Charter reform?
    If they are not, they should solidly stay neutral!!!

  3. All the staff members from government ministries better sign petition to change constitution. Undemocratic constitution is helping USDP holding on to power and caging the government staffs as slaves forever. All government servicemen and servicewomen must be servants of the people. No one must not be above the law. Under a democratic constitution, staffs from government ministries including soldiers will have better life and condition. These staffs must not be owned as slaves by USDP.

  4. These people are so set in their ways they completely lack the insight even to realise this is blatant intimidation and violation of basic human rights as well as suppression of democratic freedoms.

    Nothing short of the complete dismantling of the ancien regime will do if real change has to happen.


  5. If Burmese Ministry not allow civil servants to participate political movement it is OK, military are also civil servants to serve country and the peoples, why they are taken part in political activities of the country and having 25% UN ELECTED PARLIAMENTARIANS in side both houses. They should consider what shall they take part either resign or just side public as good soldiers also as civil servant of the country.

  6. Men and women in the government are not USDP’s servicemen and servicewomen but they are the public’s servicemen and servicewomen. Thein Sein regime must explain why it is threatening government staffs to stay away from petition to reform constitution. The government’s staffs are supposed to have every right the citizens are guaranteed by the constitution. These staffs are not getting paid from the pockets of USDP. Their salaries come from the people who pay taxes. The public is the real boss, not USDP. USDP is just a political party. All staffs from government must come out and express what they believe and sign the petition.

  7. We the people are tired of watching these wicked regime. These civil staffs are not employees at USDP offices but rather they are the people’s employees. Why is USDP regime treating these staffs like their housemaids? The rights of these staffs must be protected from being exploited from evil agents which USDP members. It is so sickening to hear their ordeals. They are not working for USDP but working for the people and the nation. They must be free from political bondage.

  8. Is it another sign of Burmese way to Democracy by quasi Government?

    Watch out!

    Burma had failed Burmese way to Socialism under former dictator Ne Win.

    When will quasi Government free Burmese peoples from shackle?

    Dear President U Thein Sein, please, don’t chain Burmese peoples forever and let them do what they want to do.

    Democratically elected Government does not tell its employees to not to involve in politic or not to support opposition Party. Peoples have their right to choose their own destiny. Government has no right to retribution on peoples because of they support true democratic change in Burma. Only authoritarian Government will order peoples what you must do and what must not do. Those peoples are adult and they have right to oppose military dictating in Parliament. Military has no right to hijack Parliament.

    Burmese Government should be given reeducation class for Ministers to learn difference between democracy and authoritarian Government. Obviously, former generals do not fit in democratic Government because they are not willing to change old habit and military mentality.

    I support President U Thein Sein democratic reform in Burma and even I sent congratulation for his willingness for democratic reform and some suggestion to President Office. However, I find very hard to believe Government is going backward for sometime now. I’m disappointing for current political situation in Burma.
    President U Thein Sein, please show you’re strong leadership on democratic reform and do it for sake of all Burmese peoples but do not stand for small group of peoples.
    If you’re patriotic and loyal son of Burma and then you must do it for peoples and nation.
    Life is short but the person who was selfless and stood up for his peoples will be living forever in heart of peoples in history.

  9. Maung Lu Aye ( Law ) R.A.S.U.1976

    Burma’s Agricultural& Irrigation Ministry told Ministry Staffs to Stay away from Politics. Govt & his Staffs are actually the Servants of the People.The Civilian staffs have to serve the People,Not the Govt or the Brutal,Bullied Regime. Govt Ministers have No rights to say. It is Undemocratic & UnConstitutional.The Ministers Need not Supersede Or Using Upper hand to his Staffs.
    The Public or Govt’s Staffs can do whatever that they believe for the Good of the Country.And by Signing A Petition to Amend the Constitution is Not Committing A Crime.It is the Most Turning Point for Our Country Burma Which Majority People have to Decide their Own Destiny, Not The Naive/Notorious Regime or the Generals to Decide for the People or the Country.

  10. All civil servents should avoid party politics but can participate national Politics such as constitutional reform matters which are related to civil rights. Therefore every civil servents has the rights to participate in this reform purposes including army those are also civil servents. Party poitic is concerned with individual party which has its vested interests not national interests. If any interest concerned with
    whole country and for the betterment of peoples, every civil servent and all citizens of the country has the rights to participate.

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