The Day Independent Myanmar’s 1st Charter Began to Take Shape

By Wei Yan Aung 19 May 2019

On this day in 1947, less than one year before Myanmar regained independence from the British, the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) met to draft a constitution to prepare for independence.

The constitution was later known as the 1947 Constitution, the first charter of independent Myanmar.

Around 1,000 delegates attended the AFPFL’s conference from May 19-23, 1947. The constitution was drafted under the guidance of AFPFL chairman General Aung San and submitted to Parliament the following month.

Parliament approved the Constitution after nearly six months of debate. The AFPFL government ruled the country under the charter for 14 years from independence in 1948 until 1962, when it was suspended by General Ne Win’s coup. His Burma Socialist Programme Party adopted Myanmar’s second constitution in 1974. After 14 years, this one met the same fate as its predecessor, expiring in the wake of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, which saw the transfer of power from one military regime to another.

The new regime’s State Law and Order Restoration Council refused to hand over power to the National League for Democracy (NLD) when it won the 1990 general election in a landslide. It then organized a National Convention, starting in 1993, to draft Myanmar’s third constitution.

The new constitution was ratified in a national referendum in 2008 and has been in force since then. The NLD, which came to power on a promise to amend the military-drafted, undemocratic constitution in a 2015 poll, is still struggling to keep its word.