Outgoing Information Minister Ye Htut, no stranger to controversy, has been blasted on social media for justifying the way ministers in the departing cabinet have emptied their government housing of all furniture, even carrying away the plants.
The government was providing empty houses to new ministers, except for one air conditioner, electricity and water system, just as it had with previous ministers under official regulations, U Ye Htut said. The Ministry of Construction had also budgeted K3 million (US$2500) for each minister to buy furniture.
“Once they end their ministerial appointments, they are allowed take all interior fittings and hand over empty houses, not even leaving a plant they have grown,” he wrote on March 24, the day the hluttaw approved the 18 new ministers.
And if K3 million is not enough, then the new NLD government can spend K100 million if it wants, the former lieutenant colonel told U Win Htein, adding that he had chosen to live in his own house after becoming a minister in August 2014.
Nearly 4000 Facebook users have since slammed U Ye Htut and the outgoing cabinet team.
Thiha Sa Khan Thit, a cartoonist, lampooned the ministers with his drawings, one showing a man carrying a toilet and chasing after a truck piled high with goods, even a tree.
“It was really shameful what the ex-ministers did. I don’t want any more,” he wrote.
NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is to take four ministerial positions but is not expected to occupy the rather sterile government housing blocks, has told her ministers that they will have to use their own money for furniture. She has also warned them against spending excessively on official trips abroad.
“She told us to be frugal with our expenses, that we could not ask the government to buy furniture in ministerial housing and that we should leave everything when we end our terms,” Thura U Aung Ko, the incoming minister for religion and culture, told reporters.