Myanmar’s Failed Charter Reform Will Soil Military’s Image: Military Proxy MP

By Htet Naing Zaw 12 March 2020

NAYPYITAW—A Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) lawmaker expressed concern Wednesday that the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party’s fruitless attempts to change the 2008 Constitution will mar the image of the Myanmar military within the international community.

The Union Parliament began voting on suggested amendments to the military-drafted Constitution on Tuesday but not a single amendment was passed after two days of voting. USDP Lower House lawmaker U Thaung Aye said he is concerned that this will create a negative image of the Myanmar military, which is known as the Tatmadaw.

“This will create an impression to a certain extent that the ruling party tried to amend the Constitution but failed due to the lack of cooperation from the Tatmadaw. I am concerned that this will spread not only inside the country but also reach outside the country,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“There is a need to settle differing views through negotiations. Nothing will change if we go on like this,” he added. “Do you want to give the message to the international community that the Tatmadaw’s influence in Myanmar is so tremendous that even the Constitution can’t be amended?”

NLD Upper House lawmaker U Aung Kyi Nyunt said he had anticipated that the attempt to change the charter might fail but that the failed attempt was very telling.

“Not a single amendment could be made and I interpret this as a very significant finding,” said U Aung Kyi Nyunt on Wednesday. “We don’t feel downhearted. If we are to establish real democracy and federalism, there is great potential if we succeed, and if [the military] can accept amendments step by step. But now, we have an answer: that [the military] does not want even gradual changes.”

U Thaung Aye said that the NLD should prioritize improving the standard of living in Myanmar by studying the society and economy rather than amending the Constitution.

“If there are restraints imposed by the Constitution on improvements to the living standards of citizens, they should be overcome through consultation between all,” he suggested.

On Wednesday, the Union Parliament voted on four amendments proposed by the USDP and 12 amendments proposed by the NLD. No amendment passed as none received the approval of over 75 percent of lawmakers.

“Looking at the voting results today, over 85 percent of elected lawmakers voted in favor of the amendments proposed by the NLD. But they could not be enacted. This is quite sad,” NLD lawmaker Dr. Hla Moe told reporters on Wednesday.

“As the Tatmadaw, the USDP and ethnic parties will continue to hold their stances, it is quite unlikely that an approval by over 75 percent of lawmakers will be achieved in the coming days,” said NLD Lower House lawmaker U Tin Tun Naing.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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