The Irrawaddy

Corruption Czar Puts Bribe Payers on Alert

YANGON — Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman U Aung Kyi warned on Monday that those who pay bribes will also be punished, not just those who take them.

His warning, at a seminar on business ethics hosted by the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce, follows amendments made to the 2013 Anti-Corruption Law in early June.

“We’ve amended Article 3 (a), defining in greater detail the giving and receiving of bribes. The original article didn’t specify the giver and recipient. Now the amended provision allows us to take action against anyone involved,” U Aung Kyi said.

The law had already been amended on three prior occasions — in 2014, 2016 and 2017 — but the changes were not significant.

“There is a Burmese saying that you succeed by giving. Myanmar people by nature are willing to give out of generosity. But according to the [new] law, I would say that it is too risky now,” said U Aung Kyi.

The government has also broadened the definition of a bribe.

“Not only cash and pricey gifts, but also treating [to lavish dinners, etc.] and service charges will be regarded as a bribe. If we pay attention to these, corruption will surely decline,” the chairman said.

U Aung Kyi said the key to combating graft was to promote integrity and that the fight against corruption would only succeed with the cooperation of each and every citizen.

The commission was also planning to establish anti-graft bodies within public service agencies and government departments, said U Aung Kyi, and would provide the necessary training.

In what’s considered the most significant new amendment to the Anti-Corruption Law, the commission will be allowed to launch investigations into civil servants who appear to be suspiciously wealthy at its own discretion. Until now it could only act in response to formal complaints filed with strong supporting evidence.

The amendments also expand the country’s anti-graft body, with commission branches to open in other states and regions. U Aung Kyi reaffirmed that the commission would also educate the public about combating corruption, starting in primary schools.

The commission is also formulating a by-law to facilitate the enforcement of the amended Anti-Corruption Law and expects to finish it within three months.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.