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Thein Sein rails against corruption and global warming

Thein Sein

President Thein Sein addressing the audience at World Environmental Day ceremony held in MCC Hall, Nay Pyi Taw yesterday (Photo-EMG)

Corruption is more likely to destabalise Myanmar’s development than terrorism, President Thein Sein told a gathering in Nay Pyi Taw to mark World Environmental Day yesterday.

The former general said the government is trying to reduce the poverty rate from 26 to 16 percent and is encouraging literacy projects nation-wide to help accomplish this. It also formed an anti-corruption committee last year to help stamp out graft, he said, adding that corruption was a cause of environmental degradation.  

Thein Sien used the occasion to tout the necessity of “green development” and his government’s commitment to environmentally sustainable development. With overall investment in the economy expanding and investment in industry rising in particular, the president said green development was imperative. 

“If we don’t establish [green] policies, we will extract our natural resources unsustainably and subsequent generations will suffer from the effects of this,” he said. Thein Sein also noted that low and average income people are more likely to suffer the effects of natural disasters such as flash floods and drought, which are believed to be increasing in frequency due to climate change. 

Thein Sein said that small island countries were experiencing the effects of climate change more acutely than other countries. He quoted the United Nations Environment Programme to say that if carbon dioxide emissions were not reduced, small island nations would have to spend an estimated US$187 billion to cope with rising sea levels 2080.

The president praised the military drafted Constitution for helping Myanmar develop an environmental protection framework. “If we talk about the development of the environmental protection in Myanmar, the Constitution calls for us to protect our environment. Moreover, the Constitution says all citizens are responsible for protecting the environment,” Thein Sein said.

He added that the different ethnic and cultural groups that comprise Myanmar could be a source of “continuous development”.

The government set up an environmental protection committee on March 10 to systematically implement environmental protection policies.

Some analysts were skeptical of the president’s speech, saying that corruption is worse now than it was under the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP).

Eleven Media Group CEO Dr. Than Htut Aung said it would benefit the country if the government revealed the salaries of ministers and top officials as well as their families’ possessions, rather than talk about corruption in broad terms. 

He said that corruption was worse now than it was under the BSPP . “Although 95 percent of government servants take bribes, no government employee has been convicted and sentenced to prison by the new government,” he said. 

“Every government official and employee knows that no action will be taken against them if they have a good relationship with the president’s office,” Dr. Than Htut Aung explained. 

The most frequent criticisms from the public of the current government are about corruption and bribery, so if the president solves corruption the people will ask him to remain in office for another term,” he added.

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