Unraveling the Intricacies of Corruption: Myanmar’s Junta Deputy Commerce Minister Detained
Detention as a Response to Economic Crisis
As the prices of basic commodities continue to escalate in Myanmar, the junta has initiated an extensive purge, leading to the detention of several key figures. Among the detained is Nyunt Aung, the deputy commerce minister of the junta. This move is part of a broader anti-corruption campaign, which also targets Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun, the trade chief and a close ally of the junta boss, Min Aung Hlaing.
Nyunt Aung and Moe Myint Tun share a history as alumni of the Defense Services Academy. Interestingly, Nyunt Aung was a protégé and close associate of Colonel Kyaw Shwe, who was the first military officer to be imprisoned under the previous SLORC military regime. Kyaw Shwe was charged and sentenced to 40 years in prison for accepting bribes after his appointment as deputy commerce minister.
Despite the downfall of his mentor, Nyunt Aung managed to maintain his position in the commerce ministry. He even survived dismissal after allegations of permitting the illegal use of heavy machinery in jade mines and accepting bribes for border trade. After the military coup in 2021, Nyunt Aung was reinstated to his post in the commerce ministry, thanks to his old classmate and the newly appointed trade chief, Moe Myint Tun.
Accumulation of Wealth and Power
The positions held by Nyunt Aung and Moe Myint Tun have allegedly facilitated the amassing of significant wealth by several of their military classmates. Furthermore, Nyunt Aung holds membership in the Myanmar Investment Commission, chaired by Moe Myint Tun. He also serves as the secretary to the Central Committee on Ensuring Smooth Flow of Trade and Goods, another entity led by Moe Myint Tun.
Detention and Interrogation of Key Figures
The arrest of Nyunt Aung followed the detention of Moe Myint Tun and Yan Naung Soe in early September. In addition to these key figures, five directors and another director-general of the commerce ministry are being questioned as part of the ongoing investigations. Despite the intensifying scrutiny, it is speculated that the junta boss, Min Aung Hlaing, may be hesitant to take harsh action against Moe Myint Tun due to his close ties with Maung Aye.
The recent developments in Myanmar underscore the junta’s efforts to address the economic crisis and corruption within its ranks. However, the detention and interrogation of key figures also reveal the complex web of relationships and alliances that characterise the country’s political landscape. The outcomes of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign and its impact on Myanmar’s junta remain to be seen. Meanwhile, the citizens of the country continue to grapple with escalating commodity prices and an uncertain political future.
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