Deputy Speaker of Irrawaddy Region Parliament Denies Embezzlement Claims

By Salai Thant Zin 22 January 2019

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region — The deputy speaker of the Irrawaddy Region Parliament on Monday denied the embezzlement allegations that recently saw him purged from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD).

U San Min Aung is accused of pocketing a share of the money earmarked for the regional government last year to buy five vehicles.

“Far from using the funds for ourselves, we even paid out of our own pockets” to buy the vehicles, he told reporters in Pathein, Irrawaddy Region.

He said all the purchase decisions were made with the approval of a nine-member committee formed by the speaker of the regional parliament for the express purpose of procuring the vehicles.

The NLD launches an investigation into the purchases in December, following a complaint by a Pathein resident, and kicked U San Min Aung out of the party on Jan. 13.

According to NLD spokesman U Myo Nyunt, the Irrawaddy Region Parliament was given $104,000 from the Union Parliament’s 2017-18 fiscal year budget to buy five used vehicles. But the market price for the vehicles the local legislature ended up buying was about $4,000 less, money U San Ming Aung was accused of pocketing.

U San Min Aung had refused to meet with reporters until Monday, following a session of the Irrawaddy Parliament.

He said the $4,000 in question went to vehicle taxes and repairs.

“I learned from the media that I was expelled from the party for embezzling funds meant to buy vehicles. When I contacted the party’s central executive committee, spokesperson Dr. Myo Nyunt said I could appeal if I was not satisfied with the ruling. But I haven’t received any dismissal letter in black and white,” he said.

U San Min Aung also said that he had not submitted his resignation either verbally or in writing, as claimed by the speaker of the Irrawaddy Region Parliament.

The speaker, U Aung Kyaw Khine, declined to comment on U San Min Aung’s remarks.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.