Union Parliament Office Rejects Criticism of MPs’ Training

By The Irrawaddy 20 February 2016

RANGOON — The office of the Union Parliament issued a statement on Thursday rebutting online criticism regarding this week’s induction program for newly minted lawmakers.

Beginning on Monday, the five-day training course, jointly organized by the parliament, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), covered the themes of democracy, public leadership, ethics and the responsibilities of lawmakers.

Parliamentary representatives from Australia, the UK, Pakistan and the Philippines were among foreign guests to share their expertise.

The Union Parliament Office on Thursday criticized some posts on social media regarding the training that it labeled misleading and harmful to the reputation of the Parliament and affiliated international organizations.

“The Union Parliament asks people to be mindful of such negative posts, especially at a time when the authorities concerned are trying hard for a smooth transition of power and democratization,” the statement read.

Citing the participation of foreign guests in the training, some online users had questioned whether the Parliament was “now under foreign influence.” One user wrote that “white men are wandering around in the Parliament,” while another asked, “Why [is a man from] Pakistan lecturing the Burmese Parliament?”

The parliamentary office said that the UNDP and IPU had been collaborating on strengthening the Parliament for the past five years.

The overwhelming majority of Burma’s MPs involved in the training were from the National League for Democracy, which won nearly 80 percent of contested seats in last November’s general election.