A Parliamentary Disagreement Over Terminology

By Kyaw Myo & Moe Moe 16 August 2018

NAYPYITAW — A military representative raised an objection to a modifier that a lawmaker used in connection with land confiscation by the military during the debate on proposed amendments to the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law, at Myanmar’s Union Parliament on Wednesday.

In his debate, Upper House lawmaker Dr. Khun Thaung Win of Kachin State Constituency (11) said the local war veterans’ organization “unfairly” confiscated private sugarcane plantations in his constituency, calling them fallow and virgin lands.

Then, Lieutenant-Colonel Myot Htet Win raised an objection to the term “unfairly” and urged Parliament to remove the wording from the record of the debate.

“As we are lawmakers, the terms spoken by us should be correct and precise. Otherwise, it can harm the image of Parliament. So, I asked Parliament to remove that term,” the lieutenant-colonel told reporters.

In response, Union Parliament speaker U T Khun Myat said the modifier would be removed from the record.

Dr. Khun Thaung Win responded that he has to speak up for the people as an elected lawmaker. “I don’t care if my wording is right or wrong. What I care about is being dutiful to my constituents. My wording may be wrong. But I believe that people would accept it,” he said.

In another case at the Lower House on Tuesday, lawmaker U Maung Myint of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) raised an objection to the term “dark era of education” used by peer lawmaker U Min Thein.

As U Min Thein asked about the Education Ministry’s plan to appoint male teachers, he used the term “dark era of education” to refer to the time of military rule, which provoked the anger of the USDP lawmaker.

“I oppose to him calling the period under the Tatmadaw government the dark era of education. It is not good for Parliament to record an inappropriate term that is critical and scornful of the previous government,” U Maung Myint told reporters.

“A lack of educational opportunities is a dark era. A small education budget is also a dark era. I resigned as a teacher after 1988. So, I used that term from my own emotions,” said U Min Thein.

U T Khin Myat warned lawmakers to not use inappropriate terms in asking questions or in their arguments.

Lawmaker should focus their attention on designing good policies for the people and should not waste their time on arguing over terminology, said Lower House lawmaker U Aung Hlaing Win of Yangon’s Mingaladon Township, adding that people have no interest in recording or not recording particular words.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.