Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Burmese MPs focus on anti-corruption laws

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 13:45 Mizzima News

MPs in Burma’s Lower House are pushing for stronger anti-corruption laws at all levels of government.

During last week’s session, MPs called for more clear and stronger penalties for taking bribes, citing “some dishonest judges and senior office staff who enjoy bribery in the country.” Bribery is recognized as endemic throughout Burma at all levels of government.

MPs said the anti-corruption bill should include how to take action against officials in bribery cases and the relevant punishments. A stronger law will support the implementation of “clean government,” they said. The legislation, along with the foreign investment law, are considered key requirements to move the country to the next level of reforms, which President Thein Sein said at the start of this parliamentary session represented the government’s “second wave” of reforms.

MP Thein Nyunt at the opening ceremony for a party office in Rangoon in December 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Another MP said more government transparency is needed, and that government personnel should also be paid reasonable salaries.

The anti-corruption bill was discussed in state-run newspapers on July 9, and advice is being sought from the public.

Parliamentary lawmakers are quickly adapting to the art of getting information from the government and its ministries, while attempting to shape proposed bills and laws.

Lower House MP Thein Nyunt, 66, the chairman of the New National Democracy Party, told Reuters in early July the anti-corruption law is based on similar laws from Malaysia and Singapore.

“Once enacted, this law will call for explanations of the source of wealth of those in power. I am sure this law will help resolve corruption, a major perennial problem in our society.”

The law could require individuals under investigation to provide proof that they have acquired their income and property legally.

Under the law, if anyone in a political post is found guilty of corruption, they could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison in addition to fines. High government-appointed officials could be liable to a prison term of up to 10 years and fines.

In addition, anyone who tries to change, transfer, conceal or destroy evidence of illegal possessions or wealth in order to avoid an investigation could be sentenced up to five years or fined.

The bill covers the formation of an anti-corruption commission, preliminary investigation teams, formation of the office of anti-corruption commission, declaration of wealth, property, liabilities, confiscation of illegal possessions, offences and penalties and other matters.

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