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119 Myanmar forest officials punished

Mar 17. 2017
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By Eleven Myanmar

Myanmar minister for natural resources and environmental conservation has taken actions against 119 forestry officials, including two assistant directors, for being weak at combating timber smuggling this financial year.

Ohn Win revealed that to Parliament on March 24, before unveiling his plan to expand the Forestry Department staff from 15,450 members to around 18,000.

“Corruption lingers in the department and it needs to be monitored carefully. As for taking weak measures in combating illegal timber trading, we’ve punished 119 forestry officials between April 1 and February 28.”

He did not detail their crimes and punishments.

From April to February 15 over 43,000 tonnes of illegal logs and 2,182 vehicles were seized with 7,000 suspects, including 11 foreigners, arrested. Some forestry staff were attacked while capturing the suspects and eight were killed and 40 were wounded, according to the minister.

The police and forestry officials have jointly operated anti-timber smuggling and illegal logging measures since September 1 in 13 districts in seven states and regions.

It was still difficult to hunt down illegal logging in remote areas, he added.

Police confiscated over 1,686 tonnes of illegal wood between April and January, twice higher than last year, in Taninthayi Region. 

The police said they took action against suspects in 335 cases last fiscal year and 446 cases this year under the Forestry Law. The Public Property Protection Law was also added to the lawsuits in some circumstances.

The police said they increased their efforts to combat illegal smuggling. They found evidence that smuggled timber was passing through Yangon Region's ports rather than their old route through northern Shan State to China, according to Deputy Director-General Zaw Min at the Forestry Department.

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