Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mandalay mayor questioned in corruption case

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Wednesday, 10 August 2011 20:27 Kyaw Kha

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Mandalay Region Chief Minister Ye Myint has questioned Mandalay Mayor Phone Zaw Han in connection with a case of corruption, according to local sources.

It is difficult to confirm what case the mayor was queried about, but sources said he was questioned this month in connection with a case involving former Bureau of Special Operation (BSO) commander Major General Tin Ngwe, who was forced to retire in July.

The case involves distribution of shops in downtown areas and busy markets.

Mandalay Mayor Phone Zaw Han and Chief Minister
Ye Myint cut a ribbon to open the Mandalay
Mayor’s pavilion on the eve of the Water Festival in
this file photograph. Photo: Mizzima
“He was questioned for allegedly taking [money for] land and shops during the time of the former regional commander,” a source who asked for anonymity told Mizzima.

A former brigadier general, Mayor Phone Zaw Han was “warned” in connection with the case, and he is still discharging his duties, the source said.

He said letters of complaint reached the chief minister accusing the mayor of misusing his power by charging 7.5 million kyat (about US$ 9,400) for shops worth 3.5 million kyat and favouring buyers who paid more money with better shop locations.

An officer on the Mandalay City Development Committee  said the mayor has only been questioned not investigated.

“He was not investigated for a corruption case. He was just questioned about how money was received and from whom, how it was transferred, and how things are functioning under this new regional government,” he told Mizzima.

A regional level official from the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) confirmed that Phone Zaw Han was questioned in connection with a corruption case.

“He was just called and warned after the chief minister received complaint letters against him in connection with land and shops, but we don’t know how he answered. We found him carrying out his duties as usual,” he told Mizzima. He said that there was no relationship between Phone Zaw Han and the USDP.

Despite the secrecy around the case, the news has spread quickly through Mandalay, Naypyitaw and Rangoon, an officer at a Rangoon Region township told Mizzima.

The source said that under the new governmental structure, the revenues received by the Mandalay municipality are shown on the regional books and that all expenses borne by the municipality are presented to the regional chief minister.

Under the new government led by President Thein Sein, some corrupt officials have been relieved of their duties. The  Australian-based Burma observer and analyst Htay Aung said the case also may involve a power struggle between regional level officials.

“President Thein Sein said that he would make his government clean in his inaugural address to Parliament. Then some actions were taken against BSO commanders and Regional Command commanders. So Ye Myint might be showing who is the boss and what he can do,” Htay Aung told Mizzima.

Similarly, the former Rangoon mayor was questioned in connection with a corruption case before he stepped down, and local news media reported that some senior officers were forced to retire because of corruption.

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