By Myin Kyaw Kyaw, Temasek Review
Burma’s most hated dictator, Than Shwe, has adopted the Singapore President Model with regards to budget. He has granted the commander-in-chief of the military—who is currently himself—the absolute authority to use unlimited “Special Funds”. These funds are supposedly to help him in performing his duties of protecting the Constitution and preserving national sovereignty. What is interesting is that this was enacted as a law but it was done secretly.
Just like how the Singapore President has no accountability, the newly passed Burmese law also stipulate that “for the spending of the Special Funding, no person or organization can question, propose and audit.”
Quoting official information distributed to members of the Burmese government, The Associated Press reported Tuesday that 1.8 trillion kyat (US $2 billion), or 23.6 percent of Burma’s budget this year, will go to defense. The health sector, meanwhile, will get 99.5 billion kyat ($110 million), or 1.3 percent.
The funds used by the commander-in-chief under the Special Funds Law will be over and above those allocated to the military in the defense budget.
It is clear how Than Shwe has structured this using the Singapore President model. In fact one can also see parallels between how both governments keep several budgets but when they talk to the public they only talk about one. They chose to keep absolute secrecy about the other budgets and transfer money across budgets arbitrarily.
The late President Ong had a massive fallout with the PAP leadership when he wanted basic level disclosures on the various budgets PAP has been managing. Till today the situation has not changed. While US proudly call Singapore an ally, least do they see that their close ally is also the key inspiration and ally to the biggest dictatorship in the world.