Irrawaddy Parliament Warns Lawmaker Accused, Cleared of Embezzlement

By Salai Thant Zin 18 July 2018

IRRAWADDY REGION, Pathein — The Irrawaddy Region Parliament has warned a local lawmaker who collected money from residents seeking to connect their village in Einme Township to the power grid.

Locals filed a complaint with the regional chapter of the National League for Democracy after learning that the village was connected with government funds.

U Aung Kyaw Myaing, one of two lawmakers who represent Einme in the local legislature, asked for 10 million kyats ($6,971) from the electrification committee of Nyaunggon Chaungpya village in March.

In Myanmar it is common for rural villages to collect money from residents to get themselves connected to the national grid, as the government can only supply power to a certain number of villages per year because of budget constraints.

The villagers share the costs of the equipment and the local electricity department sets the transformers and installs the power cables.

The money is collected from the villagers and managed by a committee composed of administrators and respected community members.

U Aung Kyaw Myaing said the money would be given to the region and township power supply departments to set up the transformer. But he reportedly returned the money after locals filed the complaint.

Ko Thura Soe, a freelance reporter, visited the village to investigate the allegations of embezzlement. U Aung Kyaw Myaing allegedly tried to bribe him so that he would not write about him. But the reporter filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The commission launched an investigation and sent a letter to the Irrawaddy Region Parliament in April suggesting that it take appropriate action against the lawmaker.

“U Aung Kyaw Myaing received 10 million kyats by abusing his power as a lawmaker. Though there is no supporting evidence against him for misappropriation of money, he intervened in rural electrification work, which is against the ethics of a lawmaker. Appropriate action should be taken against him because of mismanagement and for causing public misunderstanding,” the letter said.

The local Parliament launched its own investigation in response.

“We will make U Aung Kyaw Myaing sign that he will not do such things in the future. The Irrawaddy Region Parliament will convene soon, and we will make him sign then,” U Aung Kyaw Khaing, the local legislature’s speaker, told The Irrawaddy.

U Aung Kyaw Myaing said he kept the money only because the relevant official at the Einme Township power supply department was traveling at the time.

“The village had to incur costs for power cables. So the village electrification committee collected money to give to the power supply department. I kept the money because the official was on a trip then. Later, the electrification committee members had an argument because the money was given to me without the decision of the committee at a meeting. So I returned the money to them and asked them to give the money [to the department] themselves,” said U Aung Kyaw Myaing.

“I have no comment about the leaders asking me to sign,” he added.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.