NLD Ministers Corruption-Free, Says Commission

By San Yamin Aung 18 August 2017

YANGON — Myanmar’s anti-corruption commission is yet to find graft among the government’s ministers since its formation one-and-a-half years ago, according to an official from the commission.

U Thin Maung, a member of the commission that was formed under the 2013 Anti-Corruption Law, said it has not uncovered or received reports of corruption among the National League for Democracy (NLD) ministers, a progression from the previous government, which was afflicted with alleged cases.

“I hope the situation continues like this,” he said.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said in an interview with Channel News Asia when she visited Singapore last December that the fact that her ministers are not corrupt is what pleased her the most in her first nine months of government.

The country’s de facto leader repeatedly spoke out publicly against corruption and called for the public to submit complaints against corrupt government officials, ensuring the confidentiality of all submissions.

Before she formed the government, she asked her lawmakers and ministerial nominees to avoid corruption.

“The NLD government has come up with two priorities since assuming power: peace and a corruption-free government,” the commission member said.

He said the government announced directives for the public procurement system to all ministries soon after it took office in March 2016.

Previously, there was no such mandate, he added, citing the move as a government initiative against corruption.

In April, 2016, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi ordered all civil servants not to accept any gifts worth more than 25,000 kyats (US$21), an amount 10 times lower than the threshold set by the previous government.

U Thein Sein’s government officially allowed civil servants to accept gifts that were valued at less than $US250. It also stated clean and good governance as a priority.

Two years after it took power, then telecommunication and information technology minister U Thein Tun was removed from his post after he became entangled in a corruption case.

In addition, former Magwe Region chief minister U Phone Maw Shwe was investigated for embezzlement after U Tun Tun, a Lower House lawmaker, raised a question in Parliament on missing regional development funds.

U Tun Tun urged other states and regions to dig into similar accusations of embezzlement, even if they are not able to take legal action because of the government’s policy of “no retrospection,” arguing that the government bodies could at least retrieve their public funds.

Myanmar has risen slightly in global transparency rankings in recent years. It ranked 136 out of 176 nations in a 2016 report from graft watchdog Transparency International while it was 147 out of 168 nations in 2015.

In 2014, it ranked 156, one mark better than previous year’s 157.

Despite improvements in the index, the disappearance of corruption is not possible, U Thin Maung said.

“It will only depend on the amount, more or less. But we can reduce it,” he added.