Religious Affairs Minister Hsan Sint was removed from office because he repeatedly failed to follow the instructions of the president, presidential spokesperson Ye Htut said.
“We inevitably took the action after the president pointed him in the right direction over and over again,” Ye Htut said. “He did not comply and gave us no choice.”
Ye Htut said the former minister faces more criminal charges. “The charges you have heard about are only from one of many cases. The rest are being investigated by Home Affairs and I am not in a position to discuss them,” Ye Htut said on Friday.
Hsan Sint’s role in the controversial raid on a monastery in Yangon’s Tamwe Township was just one of several mistakes he made, Ye Htut said.
After assuming office, his first task was to safeguard and steer four religions in accordance with the law, the President’s spokesperson said. He was also tasked with enhancing Buddhism in conformity with the Constitution and Vinaya (the rules for Buddhist monks). In this regard he was responsible for preventing misunderstanding among Buddhist lay people, monks and the state’s Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee.
“U Hsan Sint had shown many flaws and weaknesses in dispensing his duties. That is why he was sacked,” Ye Htut said.
“The Maha Thanti Thukha [monastery raid] case was just one of the mistakes. The president made him responsible for mediating between the two parties [abbot Penang Sayadaw and the government] and to implement the decision of the Yangon Sangha Nayaka Committee. But the actions of U Hsan Hsint created confusion instead of understanding between the parties. This finally led to misunderstanding between the government and the monks. Some of his actions went beyond the president’s instructions and were not reported back to the president,” Ye Htut said.
On June 20 Thandawhsint Journal reported that the government apparently decided to sack the minister after a meeting on June 10 with Mahana Phonegyis (Sayadaws of State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee) about the monastery’s status. Yangon Chief Minister Myint Swe, a key figure in the crack down on the 2007 Saffron Revolution, was present at the meeting.
President Thein Sein also appointed former minister Thura Myint Maung as his lead adviser on religious affairs one day ahead of the dismissal of Hsan Sint.
Thura Myint Maung was the minister for religious affairs during the 2007 Saffron Revolution. Sein Win Aung is fatherinlaw of the president’s daughter and also the mayor of Mandalay.
When he served in the military regime, Thura Myint Maung referred religious matters to the Sayadaws of State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee.
Authorities have charged the former minister with Section 409/109 of the Penal Code. If convicted the he faces a prison term of 10 years to life, as well as a fine.
At a ministerial conference in November last year Hsan Sint said that when he was a general he had gathered evidence of corruption by government officials.