MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Burmese military junta thrives on cycle of corruption

Published by MAC on 2009-12-22
Source: Kachin News Group

Burmese military junta thrives on cycle of corruption

Kachin News Group

9 December 2009

The Burmese military junta thrives on a cycle of corruption, which has spread its tentacles to all the government's civil sectors as well, said locals.

According to the International Corruption Perception Index-2009 released by Berlin-based Transparency International on November 17, Burma is the world's third most corrupt country.

Companies dealing in jade, timber, mineral and gold in Burma's northern Kachin State have to give bribes in large amounts of cash or gold bars for business permits, mainly to five top generals in Naypyitaw. They are Snr-Gen Than Shwe, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein, Gen Thura Shwe Mann, Secretary 1 and Brig-Gen Ohn Myint of the Minister of Mines, alleged business sources.

Again, the bribes, which amount to multi-million kyats or gold bars, equivalent to the amount in currency, have to be paid to the Myitkyina-based Northern Regional command commander Maj-Gen Soe Win and his wife. Junior military officers in the command are also beneficiaries along with military battalions and columns at the local levels, added business sources.

In the Hpakant jade mining areas in western Kachin State, the companies are granted official jade mining blocks and permits annually, depending on the amount of bribe and the selection by one of the five top generals in Naypyitaw, said jade businessmen.

The amount of bribe is the highest for Snr-Gen Than Shwe and Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye. If companies can bribe the two top generals, they are quickly granted the finest jade mining blocks and permits, added local jade businessmen.

To get a jade mining permit, a private company without direct links with the junta, has to spend more than 200 million kyats (over US$163,934) as bribe to the top five generals in Naypyitaw, said sources in jade companies.

Again all timber companies or businessmen, except Yuzana Company and the Htoo Trading Company owned by Teza also spelled Tay Za, the son-in-law of Snr-Gen Than Shwe, have to pay bribe to the Burmese military and multi-government departments for log transportation and to operate logging fields, said local timber businessmen.

For Burmese troops in Kachin State, the three checkpoints on the illegal Sino-Burma border trade routes in Kachin State--- Laja Yang, Loije and Kai Htik are the best places for making filthy lucre than in any other place in the state, said sources close to Burmese soldiers.

At the checkpoints, soldiers and other security agents forcibly collect tax from all goods trucks and illegal timber trucks, said sources close to the checkpoints. But, the Burmese Army battalion in the three checkpoints is appointed in a rotational system every three or four months, added local sources.

They also need to bribe their senior officers up to the level of the Northern Regional command commander Maj-Gen Soe Win as long as they man and make money from the checkpoints.

On the other hand, government employees in all sectors are also steeped in corruption in different ways for extra income, which has become a culture because they receive low salaries, said local sources.

Nowadays, civilians in Kachin State are victims of corruption of the military and government employees in myriad ways because they do not have a chance of making money from business.

People believe that corruption will not decrease in Burma as long as the military junta rules the country, according to local sources.

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