Mon Unity Party Calls for Probe of 1-Billion-Kyat Road Contract

By Lawi Weng 28 May 2019

The founding members of the Mon Unity Party (MUP) have asked the Union and Mon State governments, as well as the state parliament, what action they plan to take in the case of a 1-billion-kyat road project that was offered without a tender process. They accused the state’s chief minister of abusing his power to offer the project to a favored company.

In a statement issued yesterday the MUP, a new party comprising former members of existing parties, said the issue threatened to harm public confidence in the state government, and cautioned that the rule of law in the region was put at risk by the absence of checks and balances between the parliament and the state government, adding that the issue had resulted in an increase in clashes in the legislature.

The MUP urged the Union government to investigate the road project to determine whether it was true that State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had verbally instructed Chief Minister U Aye Zan to offer the contract directly to the company. If she did not, the party said, the Union government should take action against the chief minister.

Nai Lyi Tama, a spokesperson for the MUP, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that more clashes would erupt inside the state parliament if the problem were not resolved.

“It is the duty of parliament and the government to explain to the people how they will handle this case. We want them to explain it to the people clearly,” he said.

“The Union government also has a duty to solve the problem. If it does not, the people in Mon will lose trust in the government,” he said.

Many Mon people including politicians want to see the Union government, in particular the President’s Office, investigate Chief Minister U Aye Zan’s unilateral decision to offer the project directly to the company instead of initiating a tender process.

According to government procedure, the state is required to open up contracts worth 10 million kyats or more for bidding. While the process is supposed to be initiated by the president and the Union government, the final decision-making authority on awarding the contract lies with the state or regional government.

According to U Aung Naing Oo, the state parliament’s deputy speaker, resolving the problem was the duty of the Union and state governments, not the parliament.

“The Union government should find out who is right and wrong, then inform the people,” Aung Naing Oo said.

He said Chief Minister U Aye Zan did not provide satisfactory answers when asked about the road project in parliament. Therefore, he said, the Union government should investigate the chief minister.

Aung Naing Oo said he and other lawmakers had already done their part, adding that he had quizzed the chief minister on the issue.

“If the Union government, especially the President’s Office, does not investigate the case, the Mon people will have more cause to doubt the state government,” he said.

On May 3, during a debate in parliament, U Aye Zan said the budget for the project was not large enough to require bidding, and that he had received Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s permission to move ahead. Aung Naing Oo said in parliament said that if the State Counselor had issued such an order, there would be a record of it. U Aye Zan replied that it had been a verbal order.

The exchange prompted widespread criticism of the chief minister on Facebook. Critics called for the NLD government to investigate U Aye Zan and take appropriate action if evidence of illegal activity were found.

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