They presented TV sets and medical equipment for the stations through the officials.

Maj-Gen Ohn Myint handed K 1 million for development of Chin State to Chairman of Chin State PDC Brig-Gen Hong Ngai.

At the hall of Kalay Township PDC, they met local authorities and heard reports on regional development tasks. Maj-Gen Ohn Myint, the commander and officials presented stationery, medicines and sports gear to officials.

At Kalay Township Hospital, Maj-Gen Ohn Myint presented cash assistance to the patients and K 500,000 for uniforms of hospital staff to the matron.

The commander donated K 1 million to Medical Superintendent Dr Tint Swe…

…After the ceremony, Maj-Gen Ohn Myint, the commander and officials offered meals to members of the Sangha. Next, they offered flowers, water, lights and joss sticks and paid homage to the Buddha image.

They planted Bo trees near the Gandakuti Building and inspected construction of the building…

…Maj-Gen Ohn Myint presented cash assistance to MCWA and Women’s Affairs Organization and personal goods to departments, social organizations and local people through officials.

– Extracted from: “Maj-Gen Ohn Myint looks into development tasks in Kalay District”, The New Light of Myanmar, 9 August 2008.

Before the recent re-shuffle when he was promoted to the State Peace and Development Council I had, from time-to-time, seen Major-General Ohn Myint in action. He was previously the Northern Commander of the tatmadaw and the Chairman of the Kachin State Peace and Development Council.

It looks like he is keeping busy in his new role as a full member of the SPDC.

What intrigues me about the daily reports of senior Burmese government figures on the road are the wads of kyat that are always “handed” to subordinate officials. The amounts of money involved are, in the terms of most governments, usually very small — a thousand dollars here, a thousand dollars there. But they still merit at least a line in The New Light. This kind of direct patronage, where favours and gifts are bestowed from on high, has become an integral part of military rule in Burma. And it is not a new thing. I expect it is as old as the mountains…

But today, in some cases, it appears to have displaced much of the ordinary process of government expenditure. And this is what intrigues me most: for the average hospital, government office, army base, school of monastery how important are the visits (and resulting expenditure) of senior government figures? Are they, in fact, a handy earner and a way of topping up inadequate official budgets? Or do local officials — in terms of preparation, planning, time wasted, hospitality, entertainment, etc — sometimes end up spending more as “hosts” than they get back from the bosses?

In the Burmese case it is hard to say. Perhaps readers with experiences from other parts of mainland Southeast Asia are in a position to shed (comparative) light on this matter. What would be an appropriate “spend” for a Lao or Thai (or Cambodian or Vietnamese) government minister doing a circuit through the provinces? Would a couple of thousand dollars cut the proverbial mustard? Has this changed over the past couple of decades?