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Ex-ministers in clear as junta admi

South China Morning Post
Tuesday  November 25  1997


Ex-ministers in clear as junta admits probe 

REUTERS in Bangkok 
The new-look military Government yesterday admitted questioning staff at
several ministries.

But a spokesman denied reports that some ex-ministers had been detained
or put under house arrest since the junta changed its name to the State
Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

He said: "Inquiries have been made in the ministries, but it's too early
to say at the moment what it is about."

Reports had circulated in the media, on the Internet and in diplomatic
circles that several members of the now-defunct State Law and Order
Restoration Council had been arrested.

"They have not been picked up for questioning," the spokesman said by
telephone from Rangoon. "They are staying in their houses because they
have new posts and they don't have any offices to go to yet.

"That's probably where the confusion came about - they aren't going into
any office."

Diplomats said last week that the creation of the SPDC was partly to weed
out corrupt ministers and improve the image of a Government accused of
rampant corruption as the country suffered a severe economic slump.

Four of the more prominent ministers dealing with financial issues were
removed from office and put on a newly created 14-member Advisory

They include tourism minister Lieutenant-General Kyaw Ba, trade and
commerce minister Lieutenant-General Tun Kyi, forestry minister
Lieutenant-General Chit Swe and agriculture minister Lieutenant-General
Myint Aung.

The spokesman said the decision to change the Government's name and
revamp the ruling council and Cabinet showed the Government's desire to
move towards democracy.

"This indicates that the Government is a transitional Government," he
said. "If it was going to hold on to power indefinitely it wouldn't need
to change its name or the people in the Government."

He said this was the Government's second phase in a three-step plan
towards democracy.

Diplomats said the new Government, which is led by the same top four
generals as the council, did not appear to have any new policy and said
the changes were made to improve its image and promote some junior