The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Myanmar has welcomed the formation of an anti-corruption committee but expressed concerns over a lack of non-government representatives.
UNODC country manger Mr Jason Eligh said the creation of the committee on January 8 showed that in Myanmar corruption is “no longer a whispered word”.
“It now can be spoken about openly and without fear,” he told The Myanmar Times last week. “This is a fundamental requirement if genuine progress is to be made in the national response to corruption.”
The government formed the “action committee against corruption” under a presidential order on January 8, saying it was “part of efforts for the emergence of a good governance and clean government after the new government took office” and would “fight the corruption and bribery in governmental organisations”.
The committee is chaired by Vice President Dr Sai Mauk Kham, with U Hla Tun, director general of the President’s Office, as secretary.
The other members include Minister for Home Affairs Lieutenant General Ko Ko, Minister for the President’s Office U Thein Nyunt, Minister for the President’s Office U Soe Maung, Minister for the President’s Office U Soe Thein, Minister for the President’s Office U Tin Naing Thein, Attorney-General Dr Tun Shin, and U Than Kyaw, an adviser to the president on legal affairs.
The functions and scope of operations of the committee are still unknown.
Mr Eligh said he hoped the creation of the committee would contribute to full implementation of the terms of the UN Convention against Corruption, but noted that the convention calls for broad participation in the fight against corruption and the committee lacks civil society representatives.
“They require also the existence of a body or bodies with the necessary independence to be able to carry out their anti-corruption functions without any undue influence,” he said.
“Of course, a country may establish many mechanisms to respond to corruption. Without knowing what is the mandate of this particular committee, or what other bodies will be established once the new anti-corruption law is passed, we cannot comment further.”
88 Generation leader Ko Min Ko Naing said the committee needed to prove it was really committed to fighting corruption but called for the public to support its work.
“They need to work for real and we also need to support them. Also people need to support their work, such as by revealing their name when they send in complaint letters,” he told journalists on January 10.