The parliament on Thursday elected former militia leader Tin Khun Myat, who was accused by some local media outlets of being a drug lord in the country’s restive Shan state, as its new speaker.
The move came as the ruling party prepared for a major Cabinet reshuffle following the resignation of President Htin Kyaw -- a loyal and longtime aide to State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi -- on Wednesday, who cited a need to take rest.
Former lower house Speaker Win Myint is tipped to become the country’s next president; he resigned from his parliamentary post soon after Kyaw’s resignation. The parliament will make a presidential nomination Friday.
Myat was already serving in the parliament as a deputy speaker before he was elevated to the post of speaker to replace Myint after Thursday’s election.
Lawmakers also elected National League for Democracy (NLD) Central Executive Member Tun Tun Hein as deputy house speaker.
The ethnically Kachin Myat used to be chief of the Kutkai militia that allied with the Myanmar military against communist insurgents and ethnic armed groups in northeastern Shan state bordering with China, according to private news outlet, Shan Herald Agency.
He was elected as a lower house lawmaker following general elections in 2010 and 2015, and was elected as deputy speaker of lower house in 2016.
He was reportedly sacked from the pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in late 2017 along with Thura Shwe Mann, a former general (until 2010), who is now a close confidante of Suu Kyi.
In a report titled "Drug lords in Parliament" published in 2011, the Shan Herald Agency alleged that the 600-strong Kutkai militia led by Ti Khun Myat had been responsible for transporting drugs through Kutkai Township.
The report added that while leading the militia, he also participated in the commission established for drafting the 2008 constitution as well as the commission that organized the national referendum to approve it.
However, the newly-elected speaker has always denied all drug-related accusations against him even though he accepts being a former leader of the Kutkai militia. Moreover, he was never charged for the alleged crimes and never faced any action by the country’s courts.
Sai le, an independent analyst based in Taung Gyi -- capital of Shan state, told Anadolu Agency that no one in the country could deny that militias were involved in the drug business.
He accused Myat of being involved in the illegal trade until he "handed it over to one of his family members in 2011 when he was elected as lawmaker".
“He consistently denied the reports of his involvement in drug trafficking. But without his involvement, how can Kutkai area become the drug trade hub in Shan state?” he said.
“How can he claim he is clean? He is also linked to May Flower Bank,” he said, referring to the local bank -- Myanmar May Flower Bank, which was shut down by the junta in 2005 after being accused of laundering money from drug trade.
“To date, his militia under his brother’s control, still involve in dirty businesses in the area,” Sai Le, who has been working with community-based organizations and their anti-drug campaigns for more than a decade, alleged.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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