Yangon chief minister leaves irritated after 30-minute blackout during SME conference

Phyo Min Thein pre-power cut. Look at all those lights. Photo: Facebook / Phyou Min Thein

Politicians — they’re just like us, they have to deal with blackouts at the most inconvenient times too.

According to 7Day, Yangon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein was recently left embarrassed and furious when the power went out in the middle of a big conference held at Shangri-La Hotel.

The conference, titled “Holistic Empowerment of SMEs”, took place yesterday morning and was jointly organized by Thai bank Kasikorn Bank, the Renaissance Institute, and the NLD’s economic committee; in addition to staff and members of all three organizations, several MPs were also in attendance.

During the event, the Minister gave a speech that was then followed by one from the Thai ambassador to Myanmar, which was when the power went out. The whole conference was temporarily put on hold while they waited for the electricity to come back on… except it never did. Apparently the ambassador even stood waiting for a few minutes thinking the generator would kick in, which also never happened.

After 30 minutes of (im)patient waiting, the minister left. Apparently the power was out for a total of 45 minutes.

While leaving, Phyo Min Thein told off a Shangri-La staff member that what happened was unacceptable, or at least, he thought he did.

“The electricity can’t be cut off. This is on the minister’s agenda. I’ve been told that the EPC [Electric Power Corporation] was also informed in advance. If the power goes out, the hotel can turn on the generator,” he had apparently told a woman, only it turns out that she didn’t even work at Shangri-La.

“No one knew where a hotel staff member was, and when the minister asked to talk to someone in charge, my boss, who doesn’t understand Myanmar, called me over,” the woman, an employee of Kasikorn Bank, told 7Day.

A rep for Shangri-La was quoted as explaining, “The power had been out since the night [before]. The generator had been running until the morning, so it gave out.” They also reiterated that the minister hadn’t actually filed a complaint with them, but with an employee of Kasikorn Bank.

An employee from the Kyauktada Township Electricity Supply Office confirmed that sometimes there are transformer malfunctions or system breakdowns that result in power cuts. Kyauktada MP Kyi Pyar, however, said that a world-class hotel such as Shangri-La should be able to rectify a power cut, especially during an important event such as this. Guess the great thing about the blame game is that it can even be played in the dark.

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