The Irrawaddy

Anti-corruption Commission Seeks to Catch Big Fish

Stacks of 1,000 kyat banknotes seen at a bank in Yangon in 2012 (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

YANGON — Unlike previous amendments, the proposed bill amending the Anti-Corruption Law seeks to expand the new anti-graft commission’s work in combating bribery and catching big fish.

U San Win, the secretary of the anti-corruption commission, submitted the draft bill during the parliamentary session on Monday.

He told lawmakers that the proposed amendments aimed to reduce waste and the abuse of the state budget by corrupt institutions and officials, as well as to abide by the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The Anti-Corruption Law was originally enacted in 2013 under the previous U Thein Sein government. Since its enactment, it has been amended three times: in 2014, 2016 and 2017 but with no significant changes.

U Han Nyunt, a commission member, told The Irrawaddy that after the latest draft bill is approved, the commission will be granted more authority.

The bill carries 21 proposed changes including expanding the commission’s offices in other states and divisions, he said.

“Now, we have only one office in Naypyitaw. If it is approved, it will help the commission be more effective and faster in handling complaints within branch offices,” he said.

Most importantly, the draft amendments allow the commission more chances to catch big fish, he added.

He said under the proposed changes, the commission could conduct investigations against civil servants who are known among the public for unusual wealth if the commission suspects a breach of the Anti-Corruption Law, including by those who are in high official positions of power. Under previous amendments, the commission could only launch an investigation after a formal complaint was filed with strong supporting evidence.

The draft amendments also reduce the punishment against those who make false complaints to defame a person from five years in jail to six months’ imprisonment, a move that is considered an encouragement for the public to collaborate in fighting corruption.

But the Upper House Bill Committee suggested on Monday that the maximum prison sentence should be three years imprisonment for that provision.

The bill will be debated during upcoming parliamentary sessions.