MPs Voice Doubts Over Burma’s Anti-Corruption Commission

By Nyein Nyein 24 September 2014

Burmese lawmakers have questioned the capability of the country’s anti-corruption commission, which on Tuesday said it had dealt with only three cases out of more than 530 complaints received since it was formed in February this year.

MPs in Burma’s Lower House of Parliament quizzed anti-corruption commission chairman Mya Win and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Brig-Gen Kyaw Kyaw Tun on the commission’s work and how it was tackling graft complaints.

The deputy minister said that since its formation, the commission was working through all complaints and drafting bylaws, which were being reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office, according to Nang Wah Nu, an ethnic Shan lawmaker representing the Shan Nationalities Development Party (SNDP).

Mya Win told MPs that 533 complaints were received in more than five months from March 10 to August 21, but that the commission had taken legal action on only three cases.

Nang Wah Nu said it was clear that the commission had not come to grips with the scope of its purview.

“The commission could not work on their own, they just accept the complaints and then refer them to the respective ministries, departments and state/regional governments,” she said.

The complaints mostly involved the government’s maladministration (238 cases), followed by land issues (170), legal and judicial issues (95) and general issues (30). The three complaints on which action was taken involved two judicial cases, one in Rangoon and another in Homlin Township, Sagaing Division, and one case in Thaton Township, Mon State.

The commission maintained that 160 complaints lacked evidence, but Nang Wah Nu stressed that these complaints also warranted attention. “Not all corruption cases will be based on money. There could be many forms [of corrupt practices], including prejudice or misusing power.”

The commission should also ease the stipulation that complainants provide identification, said the Shan MP. Despite the commission insisting that identity information would be kept confidential, the necessity to show an identity card may dissuade complainants from revealing significant corruption cases to the commission, she added.

Myo Yan Naung Thein, the National League for Democracy’s lead researcher, said that as long as the commission operated under the influence of the government, its progress would be slow or ineffective. He said that the government-affiliated commission should be restructured to tackle deeply-rooted corruption at both the departmental level and in the higher administration.

Nang Wah Nu also doubted the commission’s independence. “How much would they [the commission] freely work on issues without interference of the executive branch?” she asked.