Township Chairman Becomes Wealthy After Misappropriating Giri Relief Skip to main content

Township Chairman Becomes Wealthy After Misappropriating Giri Relief

Pauk Taw: The chairman of Pauk Taw Township, the township most severely affected by Cyclone Giri in Arakan State, has been misappropriating cyclone aid by selling it to outside markets, said a source close to the township administration.

U Khin Maung Lwin, Chairman of Pauk Taw Township, recently sold 30 metric tons of timber to a timber shop in the township for this own profit.

A senior clerk in the town said, "The several hundred tons of timber, mostly dipterocarp, were sent by the government to rebuild schools and monasteries in the cyclone affected areas in our township. From the donated timbers, the chairman secretly sold 30 tons to a timber shop in Pauk Taw that is owned by Daw Khin Mya Win."

After the stolen timbers were sold to the shop, the shop owner sent them on to Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, on a cargo boat to be mixed in with and concealed among timber being sold in timber shops in the city.

A manager from Sittwe confirmed, on condition of anonymity, that the timbers intended for relief aid in Pauk Taw have been transported by some local timber syndicates to timber markets in Sittwe over the last few weeks.

As the township chairman, Khin Maung Lwin is the person responsible for ensuring the areas hit by the cyclone in Pauk Taw are rebuilt. Because of this, he has to accept all relief goods such as timber, tin, plastic sheets, clothes, and food, that come from government channels.

"In the storage of the Pauk Taw Township administrative compound, there are many kinds of relief goods donated by the government and non-government organizations, including foreign-based NGOs. The chairman has been selling the goods through his network of agents after stealing them from storage," the senior clerk said.

In Pauk Taw Township, many cyclone victims are still living in temporary huts without roofs or wells, because most the timber, plastic sheets, and tins donated by the government and international NGOs are being sold by the township chairman on the black market.

Townspeople in Sittwe report that many cyclone relief goods such as oil, blackest, tin sheeting, plastic sheets, and tarps have been spreading in the markets in Sittwe as local authorities are smuggling the relief aid they receive out to the black markets.

Townspeople in Pauk Taw presume that Chairman U Khin Maung Lwin will retire from his post at the beginning of next year, because he has become wealthy from the profit he's made on the stolen cyclone relief aid, said the senior clerk.


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