Suu Kyi, Ethnic Leaders to Work toward Federal Union

Aung San Suu Kyi, second from left, walks up the steps to Burma’s Parliament with fellow National League for Democracy MPs on Jan. 16, 2013. (Photo: Yeni / The Irrawaddy)

Aung San Suu Kyi, second from left, walks up the steps to Burma’s Parliament with fellow National League for Democracy MPs on Jan. 16, 2013. (Photo: Yeni / The Irrawaddy)

Parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), and ethnic leaders from five parties agreed on Tuesday to work together to amend the 2008 military-backed Constitution, with the longer-term goal of creating a federal political system.

Following an hour-and-half meeting between leaders of five parties from the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) and Suu Kyi at her home in Rangoon, the participants said amending the Constitution was key to the nation’s future.

“Daw Suu said Burma definitely needs the federal system, although she does not think it will happen immediately,” said Aye Thar Aung, the head of the Arakan League for Democracy.

“But she urged that the issue [federalism] needs to be raised over time,” Aye Thar Aung added.

Sai Nyunt Lwin, the secretary of the Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD), told The Irrawaddy just after the meeting that the group “talked about how to approach amending the Constitution, especially military participation on the issue.”

Suu Kyi told the ethnic leaders that the formation of an Evaluation Committee for Amending the Constitution has been proposed in Parliament. She added that the Constitution must be scrutinized line by line to root out inconsistencies in some of its sections.

Amending the Constitution has been at the top of the agenda for the opposition and ethnic parties since its enactment in 2008. The current Constitution offers no degree of autonomy to individual states, guarantees 25 percent of Parliament’s seats to military representatives and gives sweeping authority to the commander-in-chief of Burma’s military, known as the Tatmadaw.

The ethnic parties agreed on Tuesday to continue to push for a federal system and amendments to the Constitution before the 2015 elections. They were also united in opposition to an electoral system based on proportional representation (PR).

The country currently uses what is known as the first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system.

Some smaller political parties have suggested implementing a PR system for the 2015 elections, which they say would allow them greater representation in Parliament. The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has said it too would support a change to the PR system.

PR has been rejected by the NLD, however, with the party arguing that such a system is too complicated and ill-suited to Burma’s young democracy.

Aye Thar Aung sided with the NLD’s stance on Tuesday.

“The change in Burma now must be a transition from dictatorship to democracy. I think we do not need to change to a new electoral system.”

“We do not think the PR system is intended to make the [needed] changes for the country,” echoed Sai Nyunt Lwin. “Daw Suu also does not think it is an honest plan.”

The five parties represented at the meeting on Tuesday were once members of the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP), formed after the 1990 election. Khun Htun Oo of the SNLD, Pu Cin Sian Thang from the Zomi National Congress, Aye Thar Aung from the ALD, Nai Ngwe Thein from the Mon Democracy Party and Saw Harry from Karen National Congress for Democracy, were present at Tuesday’s gathering.

The leaders agreed to meet frequently in the future.


10 Responses to Suu Kyi, Ethnic Leaders to Work toward Federal Union

  1. To get military involve maybe we could propose to add military representative from other ethical parties to be included in the 25% seats.Then it would be more fair!

  2. we all get up and support to the total deletion of 2008 Nargic than shwe casual killing right at once.

  3. The most important thing and the thing we expect from the government. USDP is not serious enough to mandate what we the people had longed for the past 60 years. USDP drags its feet so slowly. Now, Suu Kyi is trying to work with ethnic leaders to bring our greatest agenda on the table. She will surely receive our support.

  4. For all these “political parties,” there is much talk about bringing changes and yet little change is ever enacted. Haven’t the same groups agreed on a push towards federalism before?

  5. Wait and see, “dreamers of democracy”: ‘Endless freedom’ can be felt like torture ! Go to Germany and learn how “happy” the people are, and how frustrating the socio-political situation is. That thanks to a bunch of political parties disunited by ongoing disputes and characterized by destructive ideological politics which doesn’t comply with the will of the overhelming majority of Germans. Especially minorities, included Islamic organizations, take advantage of the favourable situation. Remember that: When the cat is away the mice will dance on the table. That also will happen in Myanmar, especially if a western- style of federal system should be introduced. In that case, admittingly, the seven States in Myanmar will get a chance of governing mainly their own affairs. The biggest winner, however, will be the Islamic minority , beefed up by one million new Burmese “Rohingya citizens” getting massive support from OIC-countries, particularly Saudi Arabia.

    • Arrogant Hitler was from Germany and Hitler made use of Jewish Max Schemeling, world famous boxer for his political gain before dumping him and killing Jew for jealousy.
      Therefore , Germany was and is not the good example from all aspects in the world as long as there are so many German traveller, like you to stir up the religious clash ( killing and killing ) in Burma. Fox-than shwe learns from arrogant Hitler so that cruel fox is making use of DASSK as well. Fox is the only one, eager to learn from you, German traveller who should accept , encourage and support thein sein, aung thaung, than shwe, maung aye, shwe man and ming aung hlaing to migrate to Germany forever. Those are dying men and nowhere to go. We, all Burmese and real monks do not mind that we will accept the Germany or French or Swiss speaking Muslim to migrate to Burma for exchange.
      Then, we, all Burmese, real monks, all ethnic and local Muslim will dance on the world stage.

  6. You are funny, U Norman Hla. Do you think the Germans will be happy to receive the “bad old boys” of the country, even if they were willing to go there. And do you think the Muslims who have managed to make a home as a minority in Western Europe, would even dream of emigrating to a poor and troubled countrx like Myanmar?

    I agree with you that the German traveller is meddling in complicated issues of Myanmar, and that the two countries cannot be compared. But also Hitler is past for the German, just like British colonialism is past for Myanmar. Both countries have learned from such a painful experience. Militarism never leads to peace. It also very rarely leads to prosperity, except for a small group of people in power.

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