This Week in Parliament (March 5-9)

By The Irrawaddy 10 March 2018

Monday (March 5)

In the Lower House, lawmaker U Maung Myint of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) raised an objection to the government’s plan to resettle 55 Kaman Muslim households from refugee camps in Kyaukphyu, Pauktaw and Ramree townships in Rakhine State to Yangon. U Maung Myint argued that the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State only recommended that refugees be sent back to their original homes in Rakhine State, and not to Yangon. The Lower House approved debate of his proposal.

The Upper House debated the draft law to amend the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, arguing that proposed changes would further restrict freedom of expression. Hundreds of political and human rights activists and members of civil society marched in Yangon against the draft law.

Tuesday (March 6)

The Union Parliament approved the president’s proposal to sign the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects. Union Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture Thura U Aung Ko said signing the convention would help Myanmar recover its cultural artifacts that have been smuggled into neighboring countries over the border.

Wednesday (March 7)

The Lower House approved the proposal of lawmaker Dr. A Zin Latt of Shwebo Township, which urged concerned ministries including the Ministry of Health and Sports to adopt a long-term plan to promote health standards at schools in order to turn out healthy and strong youth.

The Upper House voted to approve a set of controversial amendments to the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law despite strong opposition from activists and rights groups that claim the changes would further restrict freedom of expression. The bill passed with 113 lawmakers voting in favor and 78 voting against.

Thursday (March 8)

In the Union Parliament, lawmakers discussed the 2018 Union Taxation Bill. U Soe Thane of Karenni State (9) called for a review of the proposed reduction of tax on tobacco, arguing that tax on alcohol and tobacco are levied not for financial benefit, but for health and social benefits of citizens.

Friday (March 9)

In the Upper House, lawmaker Zaw Lin Htut of Mon State (9) asked the Ministry of Health and Sports if it would train students in cane ball, the heritage sport of Myanmar, at schools, to turn out younger generations of cane ball players, and a training camp for selected Myanmar national cane ball players.

Union Minister for Health and Sports U Myint Htwe replied that his ministry and the Myanmar Chinlone Federation are working together to train students in cane ball at schools soon, and that there are camps for selected Myanmar national cane ball players at Aung San Stadium, Thuwunna Stadium and in Naypyitaw.