Burmese Officials Told to Declare Assets

By Nyein Nyein 1 August 2012

Despite an order by Burmese President Thein Sein last week for government officials to declare their assets by Aug 1, few expect to see an honest accounting of the personal wealth accumulated by former members of the country’s defunct military junta.

Local media reported this week that Thein Sein made the decision to call on officials to disclose the extent of their wealth after Win Myint, a National League for Democracy (NLD) Lower House MP for Pathein constituency, urged the move in Parliament on July 25.

In a formal proposal submitted to the country’s military-dominated legislature, the opposition MP called on “Union government members [and] Region or State government members” to declare their assets “for emergence of good governance and clean government.”

The proposal was accepted for consideration, and a day later, the President’s Office ordered all officials appointed by the president to submit lists of their assets and businesses no later than Aug 1, in accordance with Section 101 of the Union Government Law, which was enacted in October 2010.

However, the news was greeted with doubts about whether any officials who profited during their tenure in the former junta would come clean about how much they owned thanks to their former and current positions.

“I don’t think those at the government level will honestly declare all of their assets because most officials in the new government are in one way or another implicated in the corrupt and unfair practices of the previous regime,” said Win Tin, a leading member of the NLD.

However, he added, it was the government’s responsibility to continue pushing for greater accountability from officials.

Among the officials to whom Thein Sein’s order applies are members of the president’s cabinet, chief justices and Supreme Court judges, the chairman and members of the Constitutional Tribunal, the attorney-general, the auditor-general, divisional or state chief ministers and ministers, and divisional or state chief justices and judges.

Win Tin said this was no enough to ensure clean government. “I urge the president to include parliamentarians and cronies in his order. They should also be included in the investigation,” he said.

Thein Nyunt, a Lower House MP for the New Democracy Party, said that if an anti-corruption bill is discussed and approved, everyone in the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government should be forced to declare their assets and those who are found to be corrupt should be charged by an anti-corruption commission.