The Irrawaddy

New Website Lets Public Track Legislation, ‘Vote’ on Bills

YANGON — I AM A BILL, a new website that tracks legislation and monitors Parliament, was officially launched on Tuesday. The site provides the full history of every piece of legislation — from the date a bill is submitted to the lawmakers who submitted it and every debate it faces until it is pulled, rejected or approved.

Users will also get to vote and comment on whether they support or oppose a bill and find out what legislation is in the process of being drafted. They can also check in on what the lawmakers representing their constituencies are working on and what issues they have raised in Parliament.

Peace & Justice Myanmar, a local NGO, has been developing the site since May 2017 and by August hopes to have uploaded all bills introduced since February 2016, after the NLD was voted into power.

The Irrawaddy spoke with the founder and executive director of Peace & Justice Myanmar, Daw Shwe Yee Win, about what I AM A BILL hopes to achieve and how it can help voters.

What are your hopes and expectations for the site?

The main aim of I AM A BILL is to post the submissions and discussions of bills in Myanmar’s Union Parliament in real time. We also aim to enhance public participation in the legislative processes using technology and to make the bills accessible at any time to the public, including lawyers, legal experts and [members of] civil society advocating for legal reforms.

Do you have data from the previous Parliament [under the government of U Thein Sein]?

We will try to post that. But because we get data from meeting minutes [posted on official websites] and live videos of parliamentary sessions, it is hard for us to get data from the previous Parliament.

How will this affect voters?

There are bills that directly relate to public daily life. It is better to include public views and comments when drafting such bills. We will have data analysis of public opinions and can forward that to lawmakers.

But people generally have little interest in lawmaking.

Yes. In our country, only after the 2010 election were parliamentary sessions reconvened [more than two decades after they were suspended]. So lawmakers and the public were not very familiar with the parliamentary process. But the second Parliament [under the NLD] is ongoing. There are broadcasts of parliamentary discussions, but it is hard to go back when necessary and the information is not complete. Eventually, it [the site] will become an archive of the bills that have been submitted in the Myanmar Parliament.

The most important thing is to know clearly the winning party’s policies and which sectors they want to reform and develop through legislation.

What would you like to tell users?

They can find out what the lawmakers they elected for five years are working on through this bill tracking website, because the 2020 election is now close. We need to know what our representatives have done for their constituencies, including their questions and proposals in Parliament.