Ruling-Party Lawmakers Call For Tougher Action on Graft in Myanmar

Ruling-party lawmakers in Myanmar's lower house of parliament on Tuesday called on officials to step up efforts to implement a three-year-old anti-corruption law, fearing that its lax execution will hurt Myanmar's prospects for permanent peace and development.

Corruption remains a major problem in Myanmar as it evolves from decades of harsh military rule to a democracy.

"I believe we will never have the rule of law, peace, and development in the country if we can't control corruption," said lawmaker Than Win of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party during the parliamentary session.

"That's why I am submitting a proposal today to fight corruption," he said.

Corruption has become like a "serious disease" in public administration, and it harms international trade and investment, he said.

Than Win also noted that Myanmar is ranked 147 out of 168 countries on Transparency International's 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks nations from best to worst according to perceived levels of public sector graft.

It is a "shame" that Myanmar and Cambodia, ranked at 150, have the worst rankings among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he said.

NLD lawmaker Myo Zaw Oo said that the anti-corruption law, which took effect in 2013, must be effectively implemented to reduce graft in the public sector.

The law was intended to wipe out corruption through a transparent government that protects the public from losses related to graft, to take action against corrupt public officials, to improve the country's economic development, and to attract foreign investment.

Many reports of corruption

The country's Anti-Corruption Commission, set up in 2014 under the law, has received many reports of corruption but has acted on only a few, citing a lack of strong evidence for the remainder, NLD lawmakers said.

Than Win urged the commission to thoroughly investigate the thousands of reports it has received to determine their validity.

Parliament set up the 15-member commission to investigate allegations of corruption in the country, though some of the appointed members are former military officers and other officials who were put on the panel by the previous military-backed government.

Because graft occurs at the highest level of public administration, it is believed that the commission members turn a blind eye to reports that involve high-ranking officials and cronies.

In July, parliament approved an amendment to the Anti-Corruption Law, stipulating that the president and speakers of both houses appoint no more than five members to the Anti-Corruption Commission in a bid to strengthen the body and save money, the Eleven Myanmar media group reported.

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's de facto national leader, has pledged to tackle the country's rampant corruption in state institutions.

Since her NLD party came into power in April, Aung San Suu Kyi has also spearheaded efforts to end civil war and foster peace, further democratic development, and promote clean and efficient government.

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