Ousted NLD religious affairs and culture minister U Aung Ko at a literary festival in 2017. / The Irrawaddy
U Aung Ko, the religious affairs and culture minister of the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government, was admitted to Yangon’s Insein Hospital on Monday with heart problems.
The 74-year-old was jailed by the junta and is serving a six year sentence at Insein Prison, where he has been suffering from a rapid heartbeat. After he failed to respond to treatment at the prison hospital, he was taken for a diagnosis at Insein Hospital, a hospital source who wished to remain anonymous told The Irrawaddy.
The former brigadier general was a long-time member of the Central Executive Committee of the Myanmar military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). He was appointed as deputy minister of religious affairs under the former military regime, and was a Lower House USDP lawmaker during the quasi-civilian U Thein Sein administration.
After the NLD’s landslide 2015 general election victory, U Aung Ko was appointed as religious affairs minister in the NLD government. He is said to be close to deposed NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
A graduate of the 11th intake of the Defense Services Academy, U Aung Ko abolished the Association for Protection of Race and Religion, a pro-military nationalist group better known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, during his time as religious affairs minister. Ma Ba Tha emerged during the U Thein Sein administration and its abolishment attracted ire from the military.
The junta filed corruption charges against U Aung Ko under Section 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law following its coup in February last year.
In March of this year, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison with labor. Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing commuted his prison sentence by half in April.