Myanmar junta searches for ways to curb mass resignations from its administration

The military council has solicited advice from departments within its administrative mechanism to stop the exodus of staff since the February 2021 coup, according to leaked documents seen by Myanmar Now. 

An October 31 letter sent by the junta’s auditor general’s office to state and regional auditors’ offices included a request for “opinions and ideas” toward drafting “a policy that would prevent the loss of human resources in the office’s future as more staff members ask to resign.”

Myanmar Now saw this letter, as well as a number of replies. The majority of responses attributed staff resignation to a lack of security, dissatisfaction with the work, unequal workloads, and health and economic concerns.

The Sagaing Region auditor general’s office suggested introducing an allowance of long-term unpaid leave, and facilitating voluntary transfers for those who request it.

Deputy general of the Rakhine State auditor general’s office Khin Mar Oo said that staff who were provided the opportunity to attend local and international training courses should be placed “under tighter control.” She advised that employees be fined if they attempt to resign from their jobs, or be subject to legal action. 

The military council’s course of action on the matter following the correspondence remains unclear. 

On the condition of anonymity, a deputy director at a different Naypyitaw ministry described staff in his department as continuing to do their jobs “out of fear” since the coup. 

“The most significant change that I’ve noticed is that all of the staff members are scared,” he explained. “They’re scared to be politically active and to be involved with people who are, as their lives could be over if the military found out about their activities.”

Expectations of employees’ duties and output have also changed, he said. 

“Many of us have to work until late at night and even when we tell authorities that it violates policy to do so, they just say that it was ordered by the generals and we have to do it,” the deputy director told Myanmar Now. “We can’t voice our opinions if we don’t want to lose our jobs or our lives.”

Large numbers of army officers have been transferred into understaffed civilian administrative departments to fill vacancies left by mass resignations, according to Zin Yaw, a military officer who defected shortly after the coup. 

“The defence services academy itself has instilled into the graduates the idea that any vacant position in civilian departments can be filled with army officers,” he said, calling the infiltration a “disease.” 

According to the publicly mandated National Unity Government (NUG), some 400,000 civil servants have left their jobs since last year’s coup to join the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), which aims to topple the junta’s administrative mechanism. 

The junta has responded by arresting and imprisoning CDM staff, restricting them from leaving the country and harassing their family members. 

Myanmar’s CDM was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021. 

“It is important that we are on the right side of history. I don’t want to be someone who chose the wrong side. Please choose truth and justice,” Kyaw Zaw, spokesperson for the NUG’s President’s Office told Myanmar Now on Wednesday. 

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