The remarks can be heard in video captured last week during a visit by U Ohn Myint, the minister of livestock, fisheries and rural development, to Thit Ya Kauk village, Magway Region.
”I don’t care about anybody,” U Ohn Myint tells them. “Anyone can write and say anything about me. I’m not afraid to die, so what else should I be afraid of? I don’t give a damn. I am that kind of person. I don’t give shit.”
The minister went on to say that as a former military man he had slapped people, the implication being that he was ready to slap them also.
The villagers had been telling the minister about the lack of potable water in Thit Ya Kauk.
U Ye Htut, spokesman for the president’s office, said the president had called his minister in and “reprimanded him for his inappropriate speech.”
Said another senior official in the president's office: “We are discussing with him why he used this kind of bad language.”
U Thein Nyunt, chairman of the New National Democracy Party and a Pyithu Hluttaw representative, said the minister’s remarks do not belong in this era of reform.
On February 3 about 25 members of a group calling itself “Democratic Forces” staged a protest against the minister near Mahabandoola Park.
Placards seen in the demonstration included such statements as, “we don’t want government leaders who threaten people,” “take action against ministers who insult people,” and “ministers who block the path to democracy, resign immediately.”
U Ba Myint, a member of the activist group, said: “Like the minister said, he has slapped the faces of people who get in his way, so we are here to be slapped by him.”
He added: “This kind of language from a minister’s mouth is vulgar. We don’t want any minister to do this again. Ministers should remember that they’re also members of the citizenry.”