News analysis

Whiff of scepticism as Myanmar transfers key department to civilian control

Transfer of military-controlled home ministry's arm called a milestone but some say it's cosmetic

Activists say GAD is a far-reaching informer network of military chief Min Aung Hlaing. Its transfer still leaves several military alumni in charge.
Activists say GAD is a far-reaching informer network of military chief Min Aung Hlaing. Its transfer still leaves several military alumni in charge.PHOTO: REUTERS

A powerful government body in Myanmar changed hands as last year drew to a close. The General Administration Department (GAD), an arm of the military-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs, was transferred to the civilian-controlled Ministry of the Office of the Union Government.

Officials have tried to portray the transfer as a milestone in longer-term efforts to reform Myanmar's unwieldy two-headed government controlled by military and civilian forces.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2019, with the headline 'Whiff of scepticism as Myanmar transfers key dept to civilian control'. Subscribe