Myanmar’s Military MPs Accuse NLD of Smear Campaign After Constitutional Amendment Failure

By Htet Naing Zaw 18 March 2020

Naypyitaw — A military lawmaker in Myanmar’s Union Parliament has called for negotiations as a precondition for any constitutional amendments while calling the National League for Democracy (NLD) efforts at reform an attempt to incite enmity towards the armed forces.

“Rather than parties pushing for their proposed amendments, my view is that we need common agreement over what must be amended based on the situation in the country,” Lieutenant Colonel Myo Htet Win told The Irrawaddy.

“Otherwise, nothing will change as one side will oppose the changes the other side wanted to make, and the other side will do the same,” he added.

He accused the NLD of inciting enmity between the military and the people, saying that it is wrong of the NLD to view those who oppose the 114 amendments it had proposed as the enemy. The colonel warned that the NLD’s approach could be dangerous, without giving further details.

“I would like to urge the people not to blindly trust such an organization in a democracy. [The NLD] should not create misunderstanding and incite enmity between us and the people, by pointing a finger at us for failed charter amendments.”

As the Union Parliament began voting on proposed amendments to the 2008 Constitution, none of the key amendments proposed by the NLD, the military and its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) were passed.

The NLD could have chosen to submit a charter amendment bill by itself since such a bill can be submitted with the approval of 20 percent of lawmakers. But the NLD chose to form a joint charter amendment committee to reach a consensus, said NLD lawmaker U Aung Kyi Nyunt.

“Only after the joint committee was formed, [the military and USDP] submitted their own charter amendment bills, and they did not participate in committee discussions. Everyone knows that there were opportunities for negotiations,” he said.

Brigadier General Maung Maung, who leads the military lawmakers in the Parliament, said the NLD used smear tactics by saying it was surprised by the failure to amend the Constitution.

NLD lawmaker Dr. Myat Nyana Soe said he was taken aback that its amendments were rejected.

“Some lawmakers have used smear tactics, saying that they were taken aback that some provisions could not be amended though they thought they would be passed and that [voting] was like the staging a play ‘to keep it unchanged’. A lawmaker who knows the real situation should not make such remarks,” said Brig-Gen Maung Maung.

He condemned the sharing of photos of nationalists visiting military lawmakers in Naypyitaw and military personnel dancing to traditional drums on social media.

Facebook users criticized the military for celebrating the failure of the amendment attempts after photos of personnel dancing went viral.

Brig-Gen Maung Maung said the photos were taken when a Monywa-based battalion returned from operations, were unrelated to any events in Naypyitaw and were used to criticise the military on social media.

Lower House lawmaker U Pe Than said there was no likelihood of charter amendment under this Parliament and the process had been a waste of time as the two sides only engaged in a war of words.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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