Presidential economic adviser U Myint's letter to Nay Htun Naing dated April 11

This is another letter dated April 11 sent from the presidential economic adviser U Myint to Eleven Media Group's executive director Nay Htun Naing, who wrote the article “Would Myanmar plunge deeper into recession?”

U Myint

Yangon

11 April 2015

Dear Ko Nay Htun Naing,

1. This is my reply to your letters of 8 and 9 April addressed to me.

2. I have taken note that you are a middle-aged 29 year old man with 10 years experience in journalism. And that you are now an Executive Editor at the Eleven Media Group.

3. In your 8 April letter you speak of your humble beginnings and the hardships you and other young people suffered under a dictatorial regime. I should tell you I had nothing to do with all this suffering. I left the country before you were born. I spent nearly two decades abroad as a senior economist at the United Nations and returned to Myanmar when I retired.

4. You also mention in that letter that you are the product of an education system destroyed by the dictatorial regime. On the other hand, I had privilege of attending better schools and universities. So due to this uneven access to education you are no match to engage in a debate with me. Consequently, you get bullied by me. Because I bully you, you claim I have no understanding of the lifestyles of the younger generation and I have only contempt for the 10 million young people in the country.

5. One day later, in your 9 April letter your attitude changed. You challenged me to engage in a live debate with you. Judging from this, I believe you and I have at least one thing in common. As President’s economic adviser, I am surrounded by people who want to use me. As an Executive Editor you are surrounded by people who want to use you and make a fool out of you.

6. I wish to remind you that in our culture someone like you do not challenge what you said could be your grandfather and who you address as “sayagyi” to a live debate. On this matter, I refer you to the attached email correspondence and its attachments between the Union Minister of National Planning and Economic Development, Dr Kan Zaw and me on 11 March 2015. I pointed out to Dr Kan Zaw that the phrase “On 1st November 1993, apartment from the above departments …” contained in the write-up about MNPED in his website makes no sense and should be redrafted. I know Dr Kan Zaw did not write that. It is a legacy from the past regime. Regardless of who wrote it and when, Dr Kan Zaw is the Minister of MNPED and he has responsibility to correct the mistake. And this he did. You can go on the internet, type “Myanmar, Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, About Us.” You will see he did all that I said should be done. He has taken responsibility for the mistake and he thanked me for pointing out the mistake to him.

7. As for you, Ko Nay Htun Naing, I sent you a message that the phrase “the possibility of economic failure and social gap are making the Myanmar people suffocate” and several others phrases and sentences that are poorly drafted and make no sense should be revised and redrafted. These appear in your article published in Eleven Myanmar that criticizes the government and economic advisers. In response to my message you said I have little knowledge about the young people in the country, I have no regard for them, I am protecting U Thein Sein and his government, I know nothing about what’s happening in the country, my advice to the government is useless and ignored by the authorities, and you want to challenge me to a live debate. Frankly, all these are unnecessary. All I wanted from you is to look at what I think are some mistakes you have made in your article and to correct them if you want.

8. As for your article, I wish to point out that U Thein Sein inherited from the previous regime a broken down economy, that is crony driven, corrupt, resource dependent, inequitable, environmentally unfriendly, and lacking in agenda, strategy and policy framework for inclusive and sustained economic growth. Over the past years I and my colleagues from the business and academic communities, who are now holding responsible positions in the government, have been working hard to deal with this inherited mess. It is a formidable task and progress has been slow.

9. Then you come along, charging the President’s government and his advisers as creating the mess that was inherited from half a century of misrule, mismanagement, incompetence and systemic destruction of the country’s institutions. I don’t deny there is corruption and cronyism in the government establishment. But there are also many decent people, thousands of them, both young and old, from highly trained professionals to newly recruited young people who are earning an honest living and trying to play a part to make this country a better place. Your article accusing the government of being responsible for the economic mess is an insult to these public officials and young people which is not acceptable to me.

10. As for my meeting with the President U Thein Sein last week there is nothing to hide. I met him privately and alone on Saturday 4 April. The meeting was to follow-up on a letter I submitted to him on 2 March. The letter is attached, together with its annexures. I also told him at this meeting that I have written a reply to your article but couldn’t send it because I could not find your email address or the email address of Eleven Myanmar in your website. I was told by a colleague to try sending to editor@weeklyeleven.com or to localnews@dailyeleven.com. But that did not work. I got back an error message.

11. This is all I have to say. This is my last message to you. Further exchange of correspondence will be useless for both you and for me. This is because we don’t speak the same language.

12. I wish you a happy Thin Gyan, wish you a productive new year, and also wish you to gain further merit by continuing to take good care of your parents.

Good Bye.

U Myint