CHIANG MAI, Thailand — While the winning candidates of the Nov. 8 poll wait to take their seats in January, the Union Parliament resumed in Naypyidaw on Monday to discuss dozens of outstanding bills in the last remaining session of the year.
Proceedings began on Monday with a discussion of the supplementary budget bill for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Discussions of major economic reform bills, including updates to foreign investment and arbitration laws, are expected in the coming week.
Despite most of the current crop of lawmakers losing their seats in the election, Khin Saw Wai, a Lower House MP for the Arakan National Party (ANP) reelected for the seat of Rathedaung, said that attendance in her chamber was above 90 percent for the first day of the session.
Ba Shein, another reelected Lower House ANP lawmaker and member of the Parliamentary Bill Committee, told The Irrawaddy that the Parliament was working to expedite the investment bill, which will consolidate rules for foreign and local investors into one law and has been delayed by extensive consultations and revisions.
“The government-initiated bill on foreign direct investment will have to be passed during this parliamentary session,” he said, adding that updates to the 1944 Arbitration Act were being drawn out by disagreements between the Upper and Lower houses, and were unlikely to be enacted in the next week.
The impeachment bill, which came before the previous parliamentary session, was unlikely to be raised again before new lawmakers take their seats at the end of January, according to New National Democracy Party MP Phone Myint Aung.
“I think the issue of the right to recall bill will be would best be considered under the next parliament, with the newly elected members of the parliament,” he said. “It would be unfair if the current lawmakers, many of whom lost on November 8, to ratify this bill.”
The recall bill came before the Union Parliament in August, during the last session before the election, shortly after parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann was ousted from the chairmanship of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
Intended to clarify constitutional provisions around the impeachment of sitting lawmakers, the move was widely seen as a threat to Shwe Mann, who was facing an impeachment petition circulated among his constituents in the Naypyidaw seat of Zayarthiri. The bill was voted down, apparently after Shwe Mann’s factional allies in the USDP withheld their support.
Hla Swe, a USDP heavyweight who lost his Upper House seat in the election, earlier told Myanmar Now that he expected the bill would be reconsidered during the current session.
The election gave the opposition National League for Democracy commanding majorities in both houses of the Union Parliament, guaranteeing the party enough lawmakers to determine the next president and one of the two vice-presidents when the issue comes before the parliament next year.