Amendments to Expand Authority of Anti-Corruption Commission in the Works

By San Yamin Aung 6 June 2018

YANGON — Myanmar’s Lower House of Parliament approved a bill amending the Anti-Corruption Law on Wednesday with minor changes to the legislation passed by the Upper House.

The Upper House approved the amendments of the law on May 23 and sent them back to the Lower House.

The Lower House Bill Committee has presented a proposed 19 changes to the legislation approved by the Upper House, with most just rephrasing the wording.

It included amending Article 43(b), which allows lawmakers to report anyone who abuses power or acts corruptly, to allow the right to report only those who hold political posts as opposed to “anyone.”

The amendments were approved with no opposition during the parliamentary session on Wednesday.

The Anti-Corruption Law was enacted in 2013 under the previous military-backed government. It was amended on three previous occasions—in 2014, 2016 and 2017—but the changes were not significant.

The amendments submitted by the Anti-Corruption Commission in March seek more authority in combating bribery.

The most significant change under the amendments is that the commission will be allowed to investigate at its own will any civil servants who are seen to be unusually wealthy. Until now, it could only probe allegations of corruption in response to formal complaints filed with strong supporting evidence.

The bill also reduced the maximum punishment for those found to have made a false complaint in order to defame a person from five years to three years—as a move to encourage more public complaints.

The amendments also expand the country’s anti-graft body, with commission branches opening in additional states and divisions, and plans to educate the public about combating corruption starting in primary schools.

“There won’t be public trust in the government as long as there is deep-rooted corruption and abuse of power among civil servants,” Lower House lawmaker U Tin Htwe said.

He said he hopes that under the new law, the Anti-Corruption Commission will effectively combat corruption, as it will be granted more authority.

The bill will now be sent to Union Joint Bill Committee, where Upper House and Lower House lawmakers will discuss the changes, U Tin Htwe said.

If there are no objections, it will be sent to President U Win Myint to be signed into law.