Myanmar’s Opposition, Military Lawmakers Seek House Speaker’s Impeachment

By San Yamin Aung 28 May 2020

YANGON—Myanmar’s military-backed former ruling party and military-appointed lawmakers have called for the Speaker of the Union Parliament to be impeached, accusing U T Khun Myat of breaching the Constitution by acting on behalf of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government as it launched its failed bid to amend the charter last year.

An urgent proposal calling for the Speaker’s impeachment signed by 110 lawmakers from the USDP and the military bloc in Parliament was submitted to the Lower House on Thursday. It accuses U T Khun Myat of violating the Constitution and failing to fulfill his duties on several occasions.

As he submitted the proposal to Parliament, USDP lawmaker U Sai Tun Sein said U T Khun Myat violated the Constitution and the laws of Parliament by allowing the NLD to submit an urgent proposal to form the Constitutional Amendment Committee, while blocking a full parliamentary debate on charter amendment proposals submitted jointly by his party and military lawmakers.

In addition to accusing the Speaker of thwarting debate on their charter-amendment proposals, the USDP and military MPs’ impeachment motion cites the fact that the Speaker blocked their submissions calling on the military-dominated National Defense and Security Council to discuss the containment of the coronavirus, condemning a US Congressman’s proposal to make Rakhine State part of Bangladesh, seeking an explanation of the government’s actions on the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s provisional measures, and objecting to the inclusion of sex education lessons in Myanmar’s high school curriculum.

Tensions between the USDP and military-appointed lawmakers on one side, and U T Khun Myat on the other, have been palpable in recent months, as the Speaker has repeatedly interrupted their protests and warned them about shouting from the floor of Parliament over the charter-reform push by the NLD and the ethnic parties. The USDP and military lawmakers have frequently challenged the Speaker, questioning the legality of his moves.

The NLD’s more than yearlong effort to democratize the military-drafted charter ended in failure in March after the USDP and military appointees rejected almost all of their amendment proposals, except for a handful of largely cosmetic changes.

According to the law and by-law on Parliament, a proposal to remove the Speaker or deputy Speaker can be submitted once it has the support of 110 lawmakers, or a quarter of all lawmakers.

To pass, however, it requires support from two-thirds of lawmakers (66.66 percent) in a secret ballot. The USDP and the military appointees together hold around 32 percent of the seats in Parliament.

Former militia leader U T Khun Myat was elected to the Lower House in the 2010 and 2015 general elections representing the USDP. A former member of the party’s Central Executive Committee, he resigned from the USDP following his appointment as deputy Speaker of the Parliament. In mid-2018, he became Speaker with the majority support of the NLD. He was also a member of the 2008 Constitution-drafting board and a member of the 2008 Constitutional Referendum Commission.

The Parliament is expected to vote on the impeachment proposal in the coming week.