Pyapon authorities investigate rice scam

Nov 17, 2008 (DVB), Authorities in Irrawaddy division’s Pyapon township have been investigating the misappropriation of nearly 1000 bags of rice donated by Saudi Arabia for Cyclone Nargis victims.

The allegations emerged after Pyapon township authority office secretary Kyaw Soe told rice merchant Hla Tun to sell 900 bags of rice in Rangoon.

But the buyers suspected that the rice was of foreign origin and saw that the bags were labelled as donations from Saudi Arabia.

The two suspects were arrested at the end of October and interrogated by intelligence officials in Pyapon.

Kyaw Soe is said to have confessed to the scam under intense interrogation ordered by major general Kyaw Swe, regional commander of Irrawaddy division and Northwest Command.

More than 50 village heads were also interrogated and the communal boat which had been used to transport the rice was also retained as evidence.

Suspects are being interrogated in an intelligence compound near the police station in southern Pyapon, near the rice depot where the rice from Saudi Arabia and other materials for cyclone victims have been stored.

The incident was reported to Naypyidaw and the order came back that the regional commander should investigate the matter himself.

A village authority member who was interrogated said that he believed intelligence officials and township authorities were planning to solve the problem covertly without making it public.

At the time of the incident, the post of township authority chairman was vacant after the former chair, Myo Myint Zaw, was dismissed for misappropriating fertiliser during the cyclone.

Myo Myint Zaw stole 6000 bags of fertiliser from state supplies and reported them destroyed in the storm, but the truth came out when he tried to sell the fertiliser in Rangoon for 30,000 kyat a bag.

While Myo Myint Zaw and another member of staff lost their jobs over the incident, neither of them has been prosecuted for their actions.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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