Interview: Myanmar Anti-Corruption Commission ‘Has no Right’ to Probe Military Graft Cases

soldiers.jpg Myanmar soldiers conduct military drill, Feb. 2, 2018.

Myanmar President Win Myint in June threw his strong support behind a renewed campaign against corruption in Myanmar, which is ranked 130th – tied with Sierra Leone, Ukraine, Gambia and Iran -- in the latest Corruption Perception Index published by the watchdog group Transparency International, covering the year 2016. Transparency International has recognized slow but steady improvement in Myanmar over the past five years. Kyaw Min Htun of RFA’s Myanmar Service interviewed Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Aung Kyi, who said that while his official watchdog can resist pressure from outside organizations while conducting its work, it has no authority to investigate the country’s powerful military.

RFA: What is the worst sector for corruption?

Aung Kyi: Corruption hurts our country’s economy, administration system, politics, society and culture. Based on complaint reports, the worst sector is (government) administration.

RFA: Have you received complaint reports about top level officials, such as directors general and directors?

Aung Kyi: Yes, We received some and we took action against them.

RFA: Most ministers are getting older and they are busy with meetings and state ceremonies, so the directors general and permanent secretaries are running the ministries. On this point, does the Anti-Corruption Commission have any plan to work to avoid waste in the state budget, and in order to serve people?

Aung Kyi: Yes, we have an anti-corruption strategy. As there can be some weak points in the rules and regulations that enable corruption in government departments, we are trying to work on these with a “corruption risk assessment” and I think corruption will be reduced by about 25 percent if we can apply this assessment.

RFA: October is the end of the budget year. There are a lot of business tenders as well as more corruption cases in the beginning of a new budget year than other period. How are you going to control corruption at this important time?

Aung Kyi: According to the fourth amendment of the Anti-Corruption Law, our commission has the authority to control this situation. We will use TV and newspapers to educate people who are involved in these tenders, including government departments, officials and businesses on how to follow the laws and rules. We have also discussed writing a ‘code of conduct’ for companies and businessmen at the same time. Once it is finished, we will release it as an order. We are also working together with several government departments to form anti- corruption units.

RFA: People have been saying that your commission was forced to stop investigating Planning and Finance Minister Kyaw Win’s corruption case. Is that true? Do you get any coercion from other organizations and institutions when you are conducting your duties?

Aung Kyi: That is not true and we didn’t face coercion from any organization. Even if we were coerced, we won’t accept pressure to do or not to do something. We have the right to investigate people and decide whether to take action. We will investigate people who are reported and take action against them if we receive concrete evidence.

RFA: You were former general and worked as an information minister in the previous military government. There was a report on military officials in Hpakant of Kachin State last year and action was taken. Does the commission receive reports on military officers and, if so, do you investigate them and take action against them?

Aung Kyi: We don’t receive any complaint reports on the military. According to the constitution, the military has the right and authority to manage its corruption cases by itself. Our commission has no right to investigate cases committed by military officials. 

Translated by Khet Mar.

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