Myanmar names three Christians as regional ministers

Healthcare, poverty, resource management among issues awaiting lawmakers
Myanmar names three Christians as regional ministers

Mahn Johnny, left, an ethnic Karen Catholic and newly-appointed chief minister of Irrawaddy Division is seen at the 500 years of Catholicism in Myanmar celebration in Yangon held Nov. 23, 2014. (Photo by John Zaw)

Three Christian lawmakers were appointed as regional chief ministers in predominately Buddhist Myanmar by President-elect U Htin Kyaw.

The appointments of 14 regional chief ministers, all whom are from the National League for Democracy party, were officially announced at state and division parliaments on March 28.

Mahn Johnny, a Catholic and regional lawmaker in the Kyonepyaw constituency in the Irrawaddy delta, was appointed chief minister of Irrawaddy Division. He was a member of the lower house from 2012 to 2015. He also is a member of the league's Central Executive Committee.

Salai Lian Luai, a Baptist and ethnic Chin, was appointed chief minister of Chin state. He served as a regional member of parliament in the Falam constituency in Chin state.

Khat Aung, a Baptist and ethnic Kachin, was named chief minister of Kachin state. He served as a regional member of parliament in the Myitkyina constituency in Kachin state.

Peter Lama Naw Aung, a Catholic and lower house lawmaker from the Kachin State Democracy Party, said that he hopes that Khat Aung will focus on peace, the Myitsone dam issue and natural resource management.

"The people (in Kachin state) are very poor despite a lot of natural resources coming from the state. So revenues from natural resources need to be used for the development of the region, such as developing healthcare, education and creating jobs," Lama Naw Aung told ucanews.com.

Conflict-torn Kachin, a predominately Christian region, has more than 100,000 people still living in temporary camps since 2011 due to fighting between the military and the Kachin Independence Army.

Giam Kham Lian, a Baptist and upper house lawmaker in Chin state, noted his region was in desperate need of infrastructure improvements and better healthcare.

A mostly mountainous impoverished region, the state's residents also were beset by a water shortage, he said.

"The state government should prioritize transportation, healthcare and solving the current issue of water scarcity," Giam Kham Lian said.

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