Myanmar Speaker Rejects Call to Summon Military-Majority Security Council to Address COVID-19

By Moe Moe 25 March 2020

Naypyitaw — Myanmar’s Union Parliament Speaker T Khun Myat has rejected a Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) lawmaker’s urgent proposal to summon the military-majority National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) following the first reported cases of COVID-19 in Myanmar.

“I presented the urgent proposal to hold discussions at the NDSC so that effective preventive measures can be taken at the national level,” USDP lawmaker U Thaung Aye told reporters.

According to parliamentary procedures, a lawmaker must seek the approval of the Union Parliament speaker to bring forward an urgent proposal to the legislature.

The USDP lawmaker submitted the proposal on Tuesday after the Ministry of Health and Sports reported that two men, who had returned from the US and UK, had tested positive for COVID-19.

U Thaung Aye stressed the need for close coordination at the NDSC to prevent an outbreak as thousands of migrant workers and students were returning from overseas.

“The Union Parliament speaker replied that the government is handling the issue, and convening the NDSC is under the authority of the president. The Parliament, therefore, need not make the decision,” U Thaung Aye told The Irrawaddy.

The speaker also rejected U Thaung Aye’s urgent proposal on March 17 which urged the government to design emergency plans for a possible COVID-19 outbreak.

The plans, according to U Thaung Aye, would include preparing quarantine centers, medicine and medical equipment to treat COVID-19 patients in case of an outbreak.

Ministry of Health and Sports reported a third COVID-19 case on Tuesday night. More than 200 people are being kept in quarantine.

The global coronavirus death toll, according to official figures, topped 18,000 by Wednesday noon.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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