Burma

Myanmar Parliament Speaker to MPs: Act Civil or Face Lawsuits

By Moe Moe 28 February 2020

NAYPYITAW—As fierce debate on constitutional amendment bills continued at Myanmar’s national legislature, Union Parliament Speaker T Khun Myat warned lawmakers on Thursday against making provocative remarks and said he would file lawsuits if their remarks cross the line.

Since the debate began on Tuesday, some lawmakers have made inflammatory remarks against others, prompting the targeted side to raise objections. T Khun Myat was forced to intervene in some cases.

On Tuesday, military-appointed lawmaker Major General Tin Swe Win began shouting on the floor of Parliament. The speaker warned him “not to misbehave” and asked all participants to “act and speak with the dignity that befits members of Parliament.”

Union Solidarity Development Party lawmaker U Maung Myint criticized the fact that many ministers in the National League for Democracy (NLD) government are relatively old, saying the country will be thrown into chaos if it is led by those old enough to be in their “second childhood.”

“As the speaker, I have managerial authority to take punitive actions. If [you] go too far, I can file a lawsuit according to the law,” T Khun Myat warned at the end of the parliamentary session on Thursday.

He asked lawmakers to be careful with their words even though they are allowed to discuss freely within the bounds of the law.

“It is not disgraceful to get sued for speaking at the Parliament. I would question if anyone in a true democracy has ever been sued for discussion,” U Maung Myint told The Irrawaddy.

Parliamentary speakers have the right to ask a lawmaker to immediately leave the Parliament compound and miss the day’s session if their behavior and remarks are unacceptable.

If a lawmaker is warned twice in one Parliament session, the speaker can ask him not to attend the rest of the session, as well as any Parliament and parliamentary committee meetings for the rest of the session. The speaker can also deny him access to the Parliament compound for the rest of the session.

“I have to say what needs to be said. It is up to him whether or not to take action. I don’t know if a lawsuit can be filed,” said U Maung Myint.

The NLD raised objections to U Maung Myint’s remark as well as discussions by military lawmakers and independent lawmaker U Soe Thein, the former minister of the President’s Office.

Lower House lawmaker Dr. Hla Moe of Aungmyaythazan Township remarked that T Khun Myat will be able to regain control of the situation.

T Khun Myat urged lawmakers to work in unity for the interests of the country and set aside differences in their views.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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