Myanmar Parliament Will Vote on Charter Change Before Election, Speaker Vows

By Moe Moe 4 December 2019

NAYPYITAW—Myanmar Union Parliament Speaker U T Khun Myat said the Parliament will finish the process of drafting and voting on constitutional reform bills during its current term, in response to doubts raised by military and Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) lawmakers over the process.

The current Parliament, dominated by the National League for Democracy (NLD), convened on Feb. 1, 2016 and will end in early 2021.

“Some lawmakers are concerned about whether [the constitutional reform process] can be completed during the term of the Parliament. [I] accepted the proposal [to form the Charter Amendment Committee] because I am sure the tasks of the committee can be completed during this term,” U T Khun Myat told lawmakers.

There is no precedent for a Parliament handing a bill over to a newly elected legislature, he added.

The Charter Amendment Committee—formed in response to a proposal by an NLD lawmaker in February—is tasked with reviewing the entire Constitution, collecting proposed changes from the various parties, finalizing recommendations, drafting amendment legislation and submitting it to Parliament.

The committee has collected more than 3,700 proposed changes from various parties and is currently drafting the legislation.

“We will be able to finish our job soon,” said Lower House lawmaker U Tin Thit of the NLD, who is a member of the committee.

“We hope to submit the legislation during the next parliamentary session. It will cover all the provisions [in the Constitution]. We will be able to finish it during the current [Parliament’s] term,” he added.

However, Arakan National Party lawmaker U Pe Than doubted the Constitution would be amended during the term of the current government, due to time constraints. The NLD is planning to submit the thousands of proposed changes to Parliament in separate bills (as opposed to submitting them in a single bill), each of which would have to be signed by at least 20 percent of lawmakers, as required of amendment legislation by the charter.

He said whether or not the process can be completed during this term will depend on how swiftly the committee can put forward the individual amendment proposals to Parliament.

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