NLD Constitutional Amendments Would Disrupt Democratic Transition: Military MPs

By Htet Naing Zaw 5 March 2020

Naypyitaw – Brigadier-General Maung Maung, who leads military-appointed lawmakers in Myanmar’s Union Parliament, said the proposed amendments by the National League for Democracy (NLD) to the 2008 Constitution would negatively affect the democratic transition, national unity and military-civil relations.

“Though [the NLD] frequently talked about national reconciliation [its] actions are harmful to the process,” Brig-Gen Maung Maung told the Parliament as the debate on the charter amendment bills continued on Wednesday.

He warned that the result will not be good if there is no mutual trust, understanding and cooperation between the two sides.

The military lawmaker objected to the NLD’s proposed amendments which suggest amendments can be made with the approval of more than two-thirds of elected lawmakers. At present, any amendment needs the approval of more than 75 percent of lawmakers while the military holds 25 percent of seats.

Military parliamentarian Colonel Tin Tun Oo called the proposed amendments discrimination against military members.

“Such discrimination harms civil-military relations and can, therefore, hamper the democratic transition the country is undergoing,” said the colonel.

The NLD has also proposed gradually reducing the military’s share of seats from 25 percent to 15 percent after the 2020 general election, 10 percent after 2025 and 5 percent after 2030.

Military lawmakers said the move could result in undesirable side-effects. The Tatmadaw (military) had to make sure the country did not face crises like in 1958 and 1962 when it was on the brink of collapse, they said.

“The proposed amendments suggest limiting the leading role of the military and their representation in the Parliament. You can’t set a timeframe for reducing the proportion of military lawmakers. It depends on circumstances,” Lower House lawmaker U Thaung Aye of the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party told the Parliament.

The question of whether the proposed amendments will affect national reconciliation depended on how the Tatmadaw viewed it, said Lower House NLD lawmaker Tin Tun Naing.

“If they don’t agree, how can we push for it given the current Constitution? As such, I feel like they are making a threat against charter amendment by talking about past events,” he said, referring to the military coups in 1958 and 1962.

The Parliament is scheduled to cast a secret vote on the charter amendment bills on March 10.

Most political analysts say the bills will be rejected and only some terminology will be altered.

The NLD makes up 59 percent of lawmakers in the Union Parliament, ethnic-minority parties constitute 11 percent, the USDP represents 5 percent and the military has 25 percent totaling 657 lawmakers.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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