Regional Parliament Deputy Speaker Expelled for Embezzlement

By Salai Thant Zin 16 January 2019

PATHEIN—The National League for Democracy (NLD) has expelled from its party the deputy speaker of the Irrawaddy regional parliament for alleged misappropriation of funds.

Following the filing of a complaint by a Pathein resident against deputy speaker U San Min Aung, who allegedly embezzled government funds for the purchase of five vehicles for the regional parliament, the NLD party launched an internal investigation into the case in December, leading to his dismissal following a meeting of the party’s central executive committee on Jan. 13.

“We have done this because the special investigation body reported that he is responsible for the purchase of cars for the parliament. We will take further action as necessary according to the report. We have also given serious warnings to three lawmakers who were also involved in the purchase of the cars,” NLD spokesperson U Myo Nyunt told The Irrawaddy.

The Irrawaddy was not able to contact either U San Min Aung or parliamentary speaker U Aung Kyaw Khaing for comments.

According to U Myo Nyunt, the Irrawaddy regional parliament obtained $104,000 from the budget of the Union Parliament for the 2017-18 fiscal year to buy five used vehicles. The regional parliament formed a committee and invited tender to buy a minibus, a light truck, two Toyota HiAces and a Toyota Hilux Double Cab.

Out of three companies that submitted tender for the purchase, only one company qualified. However, the qualified company failed to deliver the vehicles. The regional parliament then asked for permission to buy the cars directly, and also proposed buying one more Toyota HiAce instead of the minibus and to buy a Toyota Hilux Extra Cab instead of the Double Cab.

The regional parliamentary speaker formed an eight-member team to arrange the purchase of the vehicles. The team was led by U San Min Aung and included officials from the Road Transport Administration Department and a number of lawmakers.

The team bought three HiAce vehicles and a light truck from one company, and a Toyota Hilux Extra Cab from another company. Stamps and income taxes worth over $2,170 were given to Pathein Township Internal Revenues Department at the instruction of the Union Parliament. U San Min Aung told Akonthi news agency that he also had receipts for repairs of those cars.

“Lawmakers as well as other people are surprised that we got those cars for such [low] prices. They only know our buying prices and market prices. Only the team knows how much they paid in tax. They questioned why there is a difference of around 4 million kyats ($2,630), so I think people filed the complaint because they didn’t know about the tax paid for those cars or the cost of car repairs,” he said in the interview with Akonthi.

On the current market, a used HiAce car is usually sold for around $23,000, a light truck around $9,850 and a new Toyota Hilux Extra Cab, around $16,400.

U San Min Aung, 38, worked as a lawyer before his success in the 2015 election in Bogale Township, Irrawaddy Region after which he was appointed deputy parliamentary speaker.

Before U San Min Aung, the NLD also expelled Bogale Township’s NLD member U Aung Myint in 2017 and vice-chairman of the NLD’s Pathein Township chapter, U Hsan Shwe who was imprisoned under Article 66 (d) of the Myanmar Telecommunications Law.

On Wednesday, U Myo Nyunt told The Irrawaddy that the NLD’s central executive committee would refer U San Min Aung on to the Anti-Corruption Committee.