The Irrawaddy

President Orders Anti-Corruption Panel Not to Be Influenced by Powerful Figures

NAYPYITAW—President U Win Myint has instructed members of the Anti-Corruption Commission not to be influenced by powerful figures in undertaking their duties, and to report to him if they encounter cases of powerful people protecting those accused of corruption.

The president issued the instruction during a meeting with the commission members at his residence in Naypyitaw on Wednesday.

The commission is the first governmental body to meet the president since his inauguration. President U Win Myint addressed the topic of fighting corruption in his inaugural address to Parliament.

The president said corruption negatively impacted foreign investment, national development and the image of the country, and urged the commission to work without fear or favor.

“He said this because there are people who would protect the accused. [These people] might come to the commission and try to talk us into reducing the punishment for the accused. In such cases, the president instructed us not to pardon [the accused],” commission member Daw Lei Lei Thwin told reporters in Naypyitaw.

The commission members were encouraged by the president’s words and vowed to fight corruption head on, she said.

The commission expects to open more offices in accordance with the instructions of the president, according to its spokesperson, U Han Nyunt.

President U Win Myint also met Union Chief Justice U Htun Htun Oo and the other Supreme Court judges. He called for judicial impartiality and swift trials, and urged the judges to show logical consistency and moral courage in applying the law.

Only when the country is corruption-free and is governed by the rule of law will it attract more foreign investment, he said.

Political analyst Dr Yan Myo Thein said the president’s meetings with the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Supreme Court judges represented a major step forward in fighting corruption and promoting the rule of law.

“There is a need to educate people and mobilize their support in fighting corruption. With widespread public participation, anti-corruption efforts will work better,” he said.

“Rather than taking action against low-level civil servants, it is important that the Anti-Corruption Commission monitors the situation and investigates senior government officials like ministers, deputy ministers, permanent secretaries, directors-general, and leaders of the ruling party who are accused of corruption,” he said.

From January to March, the Anti-Corruption Commission received more than 1,700 complaints of bribery and corruption, most of them against the Home Affairs Ministry.