16 Customs Officers Forced to Resign over Corruption

Zaw Lin, a senior official from Burma’s Customs Department, speaks to reporters at a press conference in Rangoon on Jan. 26, 2013. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Sixteen employees of Burma’s Customs Department have been forced to resign for taking bribes, according to official sources.

Following an inquiry by the Bureau of Special Investigation, the customs personnel were found guilty of accepting bribes to allow the import of restricted vehicles, the sources said. The investigation reportedly began last October in response to a letter of complaint received by the Ministry of Commerce.

According to a Customs Department statement dated Feb. 5, the 16 employees, including two deputy-directors and two supervisors, were sacked for violating the department’s rules and regulations.

“They received that punishment because they were found guilty,” an official from the Ministry of Finance and Revenue, which oversees the Customs Department, told The Irrawaddy.

Similar action was taken in June of last year, when 43 officials—five from the Ministry of Commerce, 33 from the Customs Department and five from the Port Authority—were either dismissed or suspended from their positions for their involvement in the import of vehicles without registration.

A customs officer told The Irrawaddy that corruption is widespread at different levels of the Customs Department due to a lack of transparency. Those who are punished are usually lower-level officials, while those in senior positions, who accept far larger bribes, enjoy complete impunity, he said.

“There are many forms of corruption, and if the government really wanted to tackle it, there are a lot of other people they could punish,” said the officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The government recently took action against former Minister of Communications and Information Technology Thein Htun and other senior communications officials, but made no official statement about the case. Observers say this was probably to avoid revealing previous corruption cases under the former military regime.

Some Rangoon-based economists have given the government’s anti-corruption drive poor marks, saying that it is unlikely to succeed because it lacks transparency.

8 Responses to 16 Customs Officers Forced to Resign over Corruption

  1. Corruption is a second religion in Burma and this action is just a matter of exception rather than rule. Dismissing corrupt offfical will open up Pendoras Box only.
    If you were prosecuting all corruption cases in Burma, you will need 50 years to accomplish and you need a jail the size of Shan State to house the offenders.

  2. Only resignation and no trial or whatsoever ? Yes …trial will involve further investigations which will unearth all seniors’ corruptions….

    • So long as it’s limited to a few fall guys to be made an example it serves their purpose. It’s not for nothing that we have this old expression – a leaky house starts from the roof.

    • So long as it’s limited to a few fall guys to be made an example of, it will serve their purpose. It’s not for nothing that we have an old saying – a leaky house starts from the roof.

  3. If you steal a huge sums of fund, you will be able to keep your job, but if you steal small amount of money, then you will be dismissed from your job. That’s the Burmese regime’s way of life. High ranking officials laundered tons of money and they are still holding their positions. Subordinates who steal a few thousands are asked to resign as scapegoats. A s long as thieves and robbers are running the nation, this so called corruption will not go away. The only difference will be: If you are not in the position to steal a lot, then don’t do it. Because you will get dismissed by your boss who steals tons of money. From President to policemen, there may not be a single person who never steals or launders money in Burma. To find a single person who has clean hand is impossible in the Burmese regime. So, this government cannot reform effectively since the government is composed with thieves and robbers.

  4. I srongly agree Dove. ‘DO AS I SAY NOT AS I DO’. Big thieves are telling small thieves not to steal!!!!

  5. GOOD NEWS, dear Myanmar !
    For the sake of Your people, be encouraged to take radical steps against the PEST of CORRUPTION. A symptomatic disease which so unfortunately has become a PART of the CULTURE in several of Your next and after next neighbour countries.
    A unique chance for Myanmar taking on a leading role as (radical) ANTI CORRUPTION SWEEPER. It would augur well (particularly KARMA) for the brave POLITICAL & MILITARY
    INITIATORS. And much respect and appreciation on the side of BURMESE PEOPLE and the INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY would be guaranteed. Money is NOT everything !

  6. 16 Customs Officers Forced to Resign over Corruption; stop using the feather duster – use the broom you will get better results.

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