NLD Makes First Official Move to Amend Constitution

By The Irrawaddy 29 January 2019

YANGON—Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy will submit an urgent proposal to form a joint parliamentary committee to work on amending the country’s military-drafted Constitution, the Parliament Speaker announced on Tuesday. It is the NLD’s first official attempt to change the charter since the party came to power a little more than two years ago.

Drafted in 2008 by the then-ruling military junta, the Constitution has been widely criticized as undemocratic. It reserves 25 percent of the seats in the Union Parliament for unelected military representatives.

Union Parliament Speaker U T Khun Myat announced Tuesday that a proposal to form the committee would be submitted to Parliament by NLD lawmaker U Aung Kyi Nyunt in the afternoon.

“The proposal urges the Union Parliament to form a joint committee comprising suitable lawmakers … to facilitate attempts to amend the Constitution as soon as possible,” said the Speaker, who read the proposal out in Parliament.

Lawmakers were set to discuss the proposal on Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement drew immediate objections from military representatives, who questioned the proposal’s legality. They claimed any move to amend the Constitution requires a draft signed by at least 20 lawmakers.

“We have no idea what will be changed or how, as the Speaker [just] said that a joint committee will be formed,” Brigadier-General Maung Maung said in Parliament.

The Speaker responded that he was merely informing the Parliament of the proposal.

“You can discuss it when the proposal is opened to debate. The Parliament is a multiparty institution, so now we are just calling for participation from party lawmakers as a matter of transparency,” he said.