Par­lia­ment de­bates how to end graft

The Myanmar Times - - News - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­ – Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe and Thiri Min Htun

LAW­MAK­ERS urged the gov­ern­ment to “tackle cor­rup­tion happening across the coun­try” yes­ter­day af­ter a two-day dis­cus­sion on the topic.

The unan­i­mously ap­proved pro­posal, which was put forth by Pyithu Hlut­taw MP U Than Win (NLD; North Okkalapa) on Au­gust 2, makes no leg­isla­tive changes but de­clares a gen­eral in­ter­est in im­prov­ing anti-cor­rup­tion mea­sures.

MPs spent time dis­cussing cor­rup­tion in the ex­ec­u­tive and ju­di­cial branches.

Lisu Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Party MP Lar Mar Lay (Hsawlaw) said he had heard of lawyers ask­ing their clients for bribes.

MP U Myint Tun (NLD; Ta-sei) said that me­dia and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions are not do­ing enough to ex­pose cor­rup­tion among the au­thor­i­ties.

“We have to en­cour­age free­dom of press so that the me­dia can re­port re­li­able news about the dis­hon­est be­hav­iours and prac­tices of tak­ing bribes com­mit­ted by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials,” he said.

MP U Myat Lay Oo (NLD; Htilin) said, “Some civil ser­vants who are in­volved with crim­i­nals are bolder than be­fore when it comes to com­mit­ting bribery.”

NLD MPs also noted that if the new gov­ern­ment, which pro­claimed that it would pri­ori­tise elim­i­nat­ing cor­rup­tion, can­not erad­i­cate it ef­fec­tively, peo­ple will sour with the new lead­ers.

“If lower-rank­ing of­fi­cials are still com­mit­ting cor­rup­tion even af­ter se­nior of­fi­cials have changed, peo­ple will get fed up with the gov­ern­ment,” said Daw Mi Kun Chan (NLD; Paung). “Sadly, we now see that the gov­ern­ment is weak in im­ple­ment­ing its anti-cor­rup­tion pro­cesses.”

The MPs ac­knowl­edged that stamp­ing out cor­rup­tion means the gov­ern­ment needs to give civil ser­vants a proper salary and ben­e­fits.

MP U Nay Myo Tun (NLD; Htantabin) crit­i­cised the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion for be­ing weak, not­ing that it is a Union-level or­gan­i­sa­tion that en­joys salaries but has not been able to pro­duce suc­cess­ful out­comes.

“I see no ef­fec­tive­ness in the com­mis­sion,” he said.

But Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion chair U Mya Win said cor­rup­tion has ex­isted in Myan­mar for years so it will be dif­fi­cult to erad­i­cate it in the short term.

“Some pro­vi­sions in the [anti-cor­rup­tion] law need to be amended or ex­panded for the anti-cor­rup­tion process to be suc­cess­ful,” he said.

The rea­son there are so many of­fi­cial com­plaints about cor­rup­tion with so few of those com­plaints set­tled is be­cause they tend to come from anony­mous sources; are too gen­eral or lack solid ev­i­dence; are ad­dress­ing an is­sue that the law does not ad­dress; point to an in­stance that is al­ready be­ing ad­dressed in the courts; or con­tain wrong in­for­ma­tion, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the law, he said, they are not al­lowed to in­ves­ti­gate cases they have al­ready looked into, even if the ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion stemmed from a com­plaint that did not pro­vide solid ev­i­dence.

He added that more in­spec­tors with greater skill are needed to im­ple­ment the process suc­cess­fully.

The com­mis­sion can only probe toplevel of­fi­cials if that task is as­signed by the pres­i­dent or the hlut­taw, he said.

If the law is amended, the com­mis­sion will act in re­sponse to the will of the mem­bers of par­lia­ment, he said.

“I re­quest [the com­mit­tee that writes bills] to re­view the anti-cor­rup­tion law so that we will be able to han­dle cor­rup­tion ef­fec­tively,” said U Mya Win.

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