The Irrawaddy

Magwe Chief Justice: Misuse of Public Funds Could Finish USDP

Small-scale oil production sites in Magwe Division. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — The chief justice of Magwe Division said the former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party’s (USDP) spending of a public fund was illegal and could lead to the party’s cessation.

“According to the Political Party Registration Law, you can’t use any public property. It openly states that any mishandling of it must put an end to a party,” the division’s chief justice U San Lin told the media on Tuesday.

He referred to the Union government’s recent instruction to the previous divisional government led by U Phone Maw Shwe to return more than 3 billion kyats, including more than 1.7 billion kyats allegedly spent on the USDP when they were in power from 2011 to March 2015.

Chief Minister Dr. Aung Moe Nyo of Magwe Division told the reporters at the press conference that legal action against his predecessor would follow if missing regional development funds collected in taxes from small-scale oil producers under the previous government were not returned.

“We will inform anyone involved in the case [to return the funds]. If they fail to follow the instructions, action will be taken according to the existing laws,” he said.

The USDP spokesperson Dr. Nandar Hla Myint was not available for comment on Wednesday.

The Bureau of Special Investigations under the Ministry of Home Affairs launched an investigation and found that the missing funds amounted to 7.5 billion kyats.

The investigation’s findings were submitted to the President’s Office earlier this month. The office then instructed the USDP to return more than 3 billion Kyats.

The chief minister said his regional government would order the return of the remaining 4 billion kyats and “ask the Union government for help if needed.”

The USDP was founded as a mass organization (Union Solidarity and Development Association) by the then military regime in 1993 to support its activities.

It was registered as a political party (USDP) in 2010 to contest in the general election, with most of the army generals donning civilian clothes to stand as USDP candidates.

Both at home and abroad, the election was widely seen as a rigged one and the USDP won the majority of the seats.

The party has never publicly disclosed their source of income or funding. During the election campaign in 2015, the then party’s vice chairman, U Htay Oo, said most of the funding came from membership fees across the country.

“We have evolved from a mass organization so that we have millions of members,” he said.