Mining Equipment Import to Kachin State Results in Govt Dismissals

By Aung Thet Wine 3 March 2016

Dozens of government officials, including two in Kachin State directorial positions, have been dismissed this month in connection with the illegal import of heavy machinery into Hpakant Township to be used in jade mining.

The exact number of people who were fired was not known at the time of reporting, but The Irrawaddy confirmed that among them were directors within the Customs Department and the Ministry of Commerce’s Trade Department.

Large shipments of excavation equipment from China arrived at Hpakant’s jade mines in both December of 2015 and in January of this year. Despite instructions from outgoing President Thein Sein to probe into the case, authorities failed investigate the shipments further, ultimately leading to the mass dismissal.

“Director-General of the Customs Department, U Tun Thein, and Director-General with the Ministry of Commerce, U Nyunt Aung, and Kachin State government officials were dismissed in connection with the arrival of a large amount of heavy [mining] equipment in Hpakant,” a government official told The Irrawaddy.

He explained that the investigation had extended to others within the state’s leadership as well.

“The Kachin State chief minister and ministers were also interrogated. The Home Affairs Ministry directly handled this case by order of the President’s Office,” he added.

Aung Soe, a former military captain, has been appointed as the acting director-general of the Ministry of Commerce’s trade department. The director-general of Myanma Insurance is reportedly serving as the acting director-general of the customs department.

An investigation into the shipment is still ongoing, with more officials from the Ministry of Commerce, the Customs Department and the General Administration Department likely to be dismissed.