Police Suffer from Salary Cuts in Western Burma
By Maung Aye
Maungdaw:The police personnel serving in the western Burma's Arakan State have been facing difficulties with their living costs as their senior officers in the force have unofficially cut their salaries by half, for various reasons.
“Our salaries have been cut, first by the district office, then township office and then by the officers of our stations. The officers of our station told us that if we would like to continue our posts in the stations we are serving, we have to endure the cut. They have taken away half of our salaries every month”, said the constable.
He said the monthly salary for an ordinary police is just 35,000 Kyat and the senior officers have cut this by half every month.
He said that all junior police personnel have to endure the salary cuts by their seniors due to a fear of being laid off or transferred to remote areas where they can face many more difficulties with their low salary. For example, in some areas it is too low to even buy a bag of rice.
Many of them who have family have to make their kin earn from outside sources such as running grocery shops or other trade positions to ensure they have enough for their day to day living.
“Whenever we asked about the cut, the office clerks who issue our salaries have explained to us that they have to cut them according to orders from the district and township in-charges and that the cuts are being paid to these the in-charges themselves and used for the expenses of receptions of higher authorities who visited their areas”, he said.
He said the clerks also told them that they are also being ordered by the in-charges to tell officers that anyone who does not comply with the cuts would be suspended or transferred to the remote areas.
A retired police officer from Owe Tan Ward in Sittwe also confirmed that this kind of harassment by higher authorities exists not just in Maungdaw, but also in the police forces of other townships such as Buthidaung, Rathidaung and Sittwe.
“It has been a very long time since the police forces began suffering from their salary cuts. The crime police suffer the worst because there are months when they do not get their whole salaries because their senior officers have taken away their salaries and ordered them to earn their own incomes by collecting bribes from the illegal trades such as bars, video halls, two-three digit (Chae Thi) lottery games, massage parlors, prostitution and smuggling rings. But even from those illegal incomes, their seniors have also charged the officers for their share of the illicit cuts, as well as for the expenses of receptions to the visiting higher authorities”, he said.
Now the government has passed an order to the police force to perform their best in order to make the capital Sittwe a crime-free town. However the crime police in the town are facing so many difficulties due to their salary cuts and lack of outside incomes that they are too busy to attempt to quell crime according the orders.
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