April 17, 2021

“I will stay in Nay Pyi Taw which has better hospitals”: Interview with Chief Minister Hung Ngai

“I will stay in Nay Pyi Taw which has better hospitals”: Interview with Chief Minister Hung Ngai

31 March 2016 – The Hakha Post, a local newsletter printed in Hakha dialect, interviewed the outgoing chief minister of the Chin State government, Hung Ngai, last Monday at his office.

Date of Birth: 1956 March 30
Nationality: Chin (Myanmar)
Religion: Buddhist
Height: 5’.4”
Place of Birth: Tipum village, Mindat Township, Chin State
State of employment in army: 16 November 1979
End of employment in army: 24 August 2010
Spouse: Daw War War
Children: U Kyaw Min Thu, Dr. Zin War Lyin, Mg. Kyaw Phyo Thu

Question: Are you, as chief minister of the Chin State government, satisfied with your work over the past 5 years?
Hung Ngai: Well, you all know the situation that we cannot do whatever we want. As we mostly follow instructions from the Union, we cannot work as much as we wish. We just did whatever we could within the budget allocated by the Union. However, I am quite pleased overall with what we have achieved over the past five years.

Question: What were the most difficult challenges you faced?
Hung Ngai: I haven’t got any as such to tell you in particular. But as you all know, the 2015 heavy landslides destroyed our roads, bridges and means of livelihood. To respond to the destruction, we took action in different ways – some are quick while others are a bit slow based on the situation. And there are issues that we haven’t been able to deal with. These are the challenges.

Question: Yes, the State government have successfully done many things. But is there any thing that you feel at some point that the people did not appreciate or misunderstood?
Hung Ngai: We have a saying: ‘Our tongue and throat bite each other’. Sometimes, even close friends disagree. We have tried our best over the past five years but there may be people who did not appreciate what we have done. This is human nature.

Question: Do you think that the new State government should continue what you have been doing and are you worried that they may not be able to finish properly?
Hung Ngai: No, I am not worried. The reason is that we have as far as we can laid the basic foundation and the new government will continue the work. I don’t think it will be very difficult for the new government if the Union government provides enough budget. However, it is important that all the work should be done in accordance with what the people want and need.

Question: How does it make you feel that you will be leaving office soon? Do you plan to stay here in Hakha? And what do you plan to do afterwards?
Hung Ngai: It is normal that you change your job over time. It is not right that you have this kind of egoistic attitude and want to keep power in your hands as a leader forever. So, it is natural that people take turns.

I have been to Singapore three times because of my health. I think I will be staying in Nay Pyi Taw where there are better hospitals. On 30 March, the current State government will hand over power to the new State government and it is the day I will turn 60. What a coincidence! I don’t think I will be taking up employment owing to my health condition.

Question: Can you tell us the reason why you did not win the 2015 election?
Hung Ngai: Sure. People chose what they wanted in the election – as you all know about it. This is natural. Since the National League for Democracy won a decisive victory, our chance of being successful was very slim.

Question: Can you share your opinion about the importance of media in a democratic country/state?
Hung Ngai: Yes. Media is very important as it is the fourth estate. In other words, it is ‘our eyes to see and our ears to hear’. However, it is important that the media produce news that is true and accurate. When we do not publish accurate news, we are giving problems to the public, the readers, and this in the end creates confusion.

Question: Your comment on the election of Henry Van Thio as Vice President.
Hung Ngai: I am very happy! He is a close friend. Particularly, I am thankful because this is the first time in our history that a Chin national can take a Vice President position of the country.  

Question: Your message to the readers.
Hung Ngai: Yes, my respect and thanks to the chief minister and all other responsible officials – whoever they are. I would like all of them to be more broad-minded than having this parochial thinking of ‘I am Chin’ only and to be working for the Chin people and nation rather than just speaking.
Note: The interview originally conducted by Salai KB Thawng, Dar Vang and Merry Moe is translated into English by the Chinland Guardian.

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