Groups to File Lawsuit Against Govt to Rewrite 2008 Constitution

By Pe Thet Htet Khin 5 July 2017

NAYPYITAW — Five organizations are taking steps to file a lawsuit against the government to scrap and rewrite the 2008 Constitution, according to a representative from one of the organizations.

Fifteen representatives from five activist organizations – the Association of Elected Lawmakers from the 1990 General Elections, United National Democratic Organization, Farmer’s Union, Human Rights Violations Investigation Committee and the Karen Women’s Organization – went to Naypyitaw on Tuesday to file a lawsuit at the Dekkhinathiri District Court.

But they did not file the lawsuit as they needed additional documents and their lawyer was sick, according to U David Hla Myint of the Association of Elected Lawmakers from the 1990 General Elections.

“We plan to file the lawsuit in Naypyitaw because it is the most appropriate place to file this case. We will file a civil case and think it will be accepted as there is no reasonable argument for the court to reject it,” U David Hla Myint told reporters.

He said the five organizations had decided to start their own initiative to rewrite the Constitution as constitutional reform had reached an impasse. He said the groups would file the lawsuit soon.

The military-drafted 2008 Constitution guarantees 25 percent of parliamentary seats to military appointees and requires a vote of more than 75 percent in order for it to be amended. It also bars Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency with an article written with her in mind, banning a person with a foreign-born spouse or children from holding the position.

U David Hla Myint’s primary point for scrapping the Constitution was the large gap in population statistics from the 2008 Constitution to the 2014 national population census.

According to the 2008 Constitution, the country’s population was 57 million, but according to the 2014 national census conducted in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund, the population was 51 million.

“There is a gap of more than 6 million. The population growth rate shows that the number should have increased and not decreased in those years,” he pointed out.

Daw Naw Ohn Hla, the chairperson of the Farmer’s Union, said: “It is not good for the country and citizens that the Constitution, which is the backbone of a country, is wrong. I am fighting to resolve this out of my sense of civic duty.”

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.