Anti-Graft Commission Chairman Vows to 'Fight Corruption Completely'

By San Yamin Aung 6 December 2018

YANGON — Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman U Aung Kyi vowed to fight Myanmar’s deep-rooted corruption “completely” during the current administration’s remaining two years.

In his remarks at a forum entitled “Enhance Accountability to Prevent Corruption” in Yangon on Thursday, U Aung Kyi said corruption had taken root in the country over a very long time, become systemic, and left the public with little hope that the situation would improve.

To chance that, he said, the commission had recently “fried some big fish” and taken action against other less-senior officials.

“With a vow to fight corruption completely, we will keep making it happen in accordance with our anti-corruption strategy,” the chairman said, referring to a plan the commission drew up earlier this year.

Ten of the commission’s 12 members were replaced in November 2017. U Aung Kyi, a retired major general and former minister of information, was appointed chairman at the time.

The commission has been praised for stepping up its efforts over the past year. It has investigated and filed charges against the director-general of the Food and Drug Administration, who is accused of demanding favors from a company to win a contract. It also filed charges against 12 officers — including three directors — of the Customs Department for alleged taking bribes to clear the import of delivery vans, and against a deputy director and clerk of the Rural Road Development Department who allegedly demanded more than 10 million kyats ($6,200) in bribes.

In its most high-profile case, the commission has filed charges against the former attorney general of Yangon Region and five other officials for allegedly taking bribes to drop a murder case involving three men suspected of fatally beating popular comedian Ko Aung Yell Htwe.

Addressing the audience on Wednesday, U Aung Kyi called for more accountability from every governmental body, public and private institutions and citizen in combating corruption.

“No one can abstain from [the fight against] corruption. Turning a blind eye to corruption is the same as standing on the side of the convicts,” he said. “As institutions of authority, governmental departments and public institutions need to watch for corruption carefully and be accountable.

“Only when the leaders who want to get rid of corruption can ensure that the corrupt do not escape unpunished can we prevent corruption,” he added.

Forum attendees included Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, Yangon Region ministers and lawmakers, and representatives from the judicial sector, civil society and business community.

Economist U Aung Tun Thet said rooting out corruption demanded political will and urged the Yangon Region chief minister and Parliament speaker to announce a “Corruption-Free Yangon.”

“If we really want to stop corruption, we must have zero tolerance for it. There is no reason to forgive and understand it as a culture,” he said.

Myanmar ranks 130 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s current Corruption Perceptions Index.