MPs Assets Declaration Motion Shot Down

By Yan Pai 10 August 2012

Burma’s Lower House of Parliament on Wednesday voted down a motion that would require all members of the union, state and regional government to declare their movable and immovable assets and interests for the public record.

The proposal was first submitted to the legislature by, the MP representing Pathein Township in Irrawaddy Division for the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, on July 25.

He said the issue warranted further discussion as it would strengthen the emergence of good and clean governance and foster public trust in elected officials.

Only seven NLD MPs—including Kyaw Min from Latpantan Constituency in Pegu Division, Phyu Phyu Thin from Rangoon’s Mingala Taung Nyunt, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung from Mandalay’s Kyaukpadaung, Dr. Myo Aung from Rangoon’s New Dagon and Myint Myint San from Irrawaddy Division’s Wakema—were to be allowed to discuss the matter.

When the debate took place, however, military representatives including Col Khin Maung Htun and Col Aung Myint were also permitted to participate along with MPs from other parties.

The motion was supported by NLD MPs but opposed by the armed forces who claimed it went beyond the 2008 Constitution as asset declaration is already covered by Article 68 of that document.

Article 68 states: “The president and vice-president shall furnish a list of family assets under his direction; namely land, houses, buildings, businesses, savings and other valuables together with their values to the head of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw [Union Parliament].”

Two MPs from National Democratic Force, a splinter party of the NLD which contested the 2010 general election, echoed the army representatives. But they submitted an alternative proposal to investigate domestic and international assets belonging to members of Union Parliament committees.

The state-run The New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Thursday carried Attorney General Dr. Tun Shin’s response to the assets declaration proposal.

Other than Article 68 of the Constitution, he also quoted Article 100 of Union Government Law (UGL) which repeats the same provisions. In addition, he quoted UGL Article 101 which says that personnel who are assigned by the president with the approval of Parliament shall furnish a list of their businesses and assets together with the value of each.

Win Myint, however, said that even though the Constitution and UGL already had certain rules he made the new proposal to aid public awareness and, if necessary, the Lower House should vote for the motion.

Kyaw Min said that despite his NLD colleague’s proposal being voted down it was nevertheless effective as it allowed the matter to be discussed in Parliament in open view.

On Aug. 1, Thein Sein instructed those he assigned with the approval of Parliament to declare their assets in accordance with UGL Article 101. The Irrawaddy tried to contact the President’s Office to find out who has so far complied with this order but no response was available at the time of publication.