Candidates Put Forward for Parliamentary Standing Committees

By Yen Saning 4 February 2016

RANGOON — The Upper and Lower House speakers of Burma’s new Parliament assigned leadership positions and proposed candidates for membership on Thursday for two parliamentary standing committees.

The speakers respectively announced the 15 recommended members for the public accounts and draft bill committees, for each chamber.

A military MP was appointed to each committee, unlike the practice in the previous Parliament, where four military MPs were assigned as observers.

House speakers explained that the Draft Bill Committee’s main responsibility is to scrutinize proposed bills before they are introduced to Parliament, while the Public Accounts Committee monitors government expenditures.

Phyu Phyu Thin, a National League for Democracy (NLD) Lower House MP from Rangoon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township, confirmed leadership appointments to The Irrawaddy for the Lower House’s Draft Bill Committee.

Tun Tun Hein of the NLD was approved as chair, while Steven, a re-elected MP in Shan State’s Kengtung Township and member of the Union Solidarity and Development party (USDP), was appointed as the secretary. Steven previously served on draft bill, ethnic affairs and peace implementation committees in Burma’s first Parliament.

Lower House NLD MP Khin Htay Kywe of Moulmein in Mon State, the re-elected Ba Shein of the Arakan National Party (ANP) and Khin Maung Win and Kyaw Soe Lin, both of the NLD, were suggested as Draft Bill Committee members.

According to Phyu Phyu Thin, who was re-elected in 2015, those selected to serve on the Draft Bill Committee are mostly lawyers.

Phyu Phyu Thin acted as a member of the Planning and Finance Development Committee in the Parliament after Burma’s 2012 by-election. She recalled that the Draft Bill and Public Accounts committees were among the busiest. In an NLD-dominated Parliament, she also speculates that most committees will be more active than they were able to be in the past.

Aung Min, an NLD Lower House MP from Irrawaddy Division’s Zalun Township, was appointed as chair of the Lower House’s Public Accounts Committee, while Khin Maung Than, of the NLD and representing Taunggyi in Shan State, was appointed secretary. The other proposed committee members are largely from the NLD.

Procedures were similar in committee selection in the Upper House.

Than Soe, an Upper House MP from Rangoon’s Constituency No. 3 representing the NLD, confirmed that Zaw Min, also of the NLD and from Constituency No. 6, was appointed chair of the Upper House’s Draft Bill Committee. Dr. Myat Nyana Soe, who was a member of the same committee in the previous Parliament, was appointed as secretary.

Regarding the Upper House’s Public Accounts Committee, Than Soe said that Saw Than Htut, an Upper House NLD MP from Karen State’s Constituency No. 2 was appointed as chair, while the position of secretary was designated as Dr. Sai Seng Kyauk San of the USDP from Shan State’s No. 6 Constituency.

Also a proposed member of the Upper House Public Accounts Committee himself, Than Soe said that all committees’ responsibilities and terms of authority are defined by the Constitution, but added that current members will have to revisit previous committees’ work and procedures.

Htoot May, an upper house MP from the ANP and hopeful member of the Upper House Public Accounts Committee, confirmed that some prominent names were on the suggested list of members, including women’s rights advocates Susanna Hla Hla Soe and Shwe Shwe Sein Latt, both of the NLD.

On Friday, both Houses will finalize membership in the draft bill and public accounts committees. Speakers will also announce lists of recommended members for the remaining two standing committees: the Hluttaw Rights Committee and Government’s Guarantees, Pledges, Undertakings and Vetting Committee.

The Lower House has a total of 25 parliamentary affairs committees and a legal affairs and special case assessment commission, while the Upper House has 20 parliamentary affairs committees, as well as commissions for finance and legal affairs.

Burma’s Parliament convened this week for the first time since the NLD won a majority of seats in November’s general election.