Myanmar’s military council has begun installing hardline supporters in hundreds of local administrative positions in Yangon in recent weeks, according to sources and documents seen by Myanmar Now.
On December 9, Hlegu Township’s General Administration Department office sent a letter to village, ward and 100-household administrators informing them that they were to be replaced, effective the next day.
A total of 351 administrators, including 59 at the ward and village level, were replaced, the letter showed.
According to one administrator who received the letter, the new appointees were all members of the military’s proxy party or closely associated with it.
“They all had links to the USDP,” he said, referring to the Union Solidarity and Development Party, created by Myanmar’s former junta to run in military-controlled elections.
“I heard that they will also be appointed to serve as election officials in their local areas,” said the former administrator, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The following week, a similar directive was issued in Mingaladon Township, where 14 of the township’s 27 ward administrators were replaced, according to documents circulating on social media.
The new appointees assumed their positions on Monday, local sources told Myanmar Now.
“One of them is barely literate, but he regularly attends USDP events,” remarked one resident of the township. “It seems that the regime wasn’t happy with administrators who sat on the fence between them and the people.”
With its heavy military presence, Mingaladon Township has been a frequent target of attacks by anti-regime forces active in Myanmar’s largest city.
“There are still a lot of shootings here, despite the fact that this is military territory,” said the Mingaladon resident. “That may be why they want more reliable sources of information on the ground.”
Sources say that similar moves have been reported in other townships in and around Yangon, including North Okkalapa, Shwepyithar, Hlaing Tharyar, and Hmawbi.
“No one in our ward has ever seen the new administrator before, even though he is supposedly a resident,” said a man living in North Okkalapa Township, who added that a number of positions have been filled by retired military officers.
In some townships farther from the city, such as Khayan, Thongwa, and Kyauktan, there have also been reports of military veterans being installed as administrators, as well as other measures being introduced to keep residents under junta control.
“I’ve heard that they’re going to assign 10 members of the Pyu Saw Htee or the People’s Militia to every ward and village,” said a member of the Khayan People’s Defence Force, referring to two pro-junta militia groups that have emerged since the military seized power nearly two years ago.
Meanwhile, in Mayangone Township, in central Yangon, residents say that the regime has failed in a recent bid to recruit new ward administrators.
“No one is interested in taking these positions except backers of the junta,” said one local resident.
Soon after overthrowing Myanmar’s elected civilian government in February 2021, the regime amended the Ward or Village Tract Administration Law to give itself the power to appoint local administrators.
At the same time, it also reinstated the overnight guest registration system, which allows administrators to search homes at any time without providing a reason or prior notice.
Since the coup, many junta-appointed administrators around the country have been assassinated by groups opposed to the regime, prompting many to resign.
In response, the junta has begun providing 500,000 kyat ($240) in compensation to the families of murdered administrators, as well as honorary titles for outstanding service to the state.