This Week in Parliament (October 3-7)

By The Irrawaddy 8 October 2016

Monday (October 3)

In the Lower House, lawmakers voted to reject Dr Maung Thin’s proposal for the government to design an inclusive basic education policy by holding seminars at different levels and inviting input from different levels of society.

In the Upper House, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Dr Tun Win responded to a question from Daw Ei Ei Pyone of Irrawaddy Division (8), saying that his ministry is disseminating knowledge about good agricultural practice, soil management and the use of fertilizer and pesticides, right down to local level, while prioritizing research and development.

Tuesday (October 4)

In the Lower House, lawmakers debated a proposal from U Than Nyunt, representing Phyu Township of Pegu Division, for the government to upgrade rail transport in line with international standards. The house put the proposal on record.

The Union Parliament revoked the widely derided 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, which had been used frequently by successive military governments to imprison dissidents.

Wednesday (October 5)

In the Lower House, U Myint Lwin, who represents Twante Township of Rangoon Division, asked whether the government had plans to support Burma’s film industry, with an eye to penetrating international movie markets. Minister of Information U Pe Myint replied that a dedicated motion picture law is a precondition for developing Burma’s film industry and said his ministry was working with relevant individuals, associations and ministries to develop one.

The Upper House approved the draft of the hotly anticipated Myanmar Investment Law, which merges and updates the provisions of the 2012 Foreign Investment Law and the 2013 Myanmar Citizens Investment Law.

Thursday (October 6)

The Lower House approved amendments to the civil service law. Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Maj-Gen Aung Soe responded to a question from U Tun Tun, of Pwintbyu Township in Magwe Division, saying that his ministry is taking legal action against illegal liquor shops and bootleg sellers, and is making brewing plants undergo checks before extending their licenses.

In the Lower House, lawmaker U Tin Aye asked about the government’s security plans in light of increasing terrorist attacks in other countries in the region. Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Maj-Gen Aung Soe replied that his ministry has blacklisted international terrorist organizations and their members, in accordance with lists supplied by Interpol, Aseanpol and partner organizations, and has developed counter-terrorism plans based on international practice.

In the Upper House, U Hla Hsan of Magwe Division (1) asked about five state-run fertilizer plants and about fertilizer imports. Deputy Minister of Electricity and Energy Dr Tun Naing said that two plants, in Myaungdaga and Kangyidaunt, are still operating but manufacturing below normal levels while three others, in Sale, Kyunchaung and Kyaw Swar, have halted production because of a shortage of natural gas needed for fuel. He said that the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation regulates imports of fertilizer to ensure their quality and accessibility.

Lawmakers in the Upper House also debated a new bill to protect citizens’ privacy and security from state intrusion, which was previously passed by the Lower House.

Friday (October 7)

The Lower House’s term formally concluded. According to the Lower House speaker, a total of 225 “asterisk” questions and 407 “non-asterisk” questions were asked throughout the term. Sixteen proposals, including two “important” proposals, were submitted—four were approved, nine others documented, two rejected and one was not discussed. Ten out of 19 bills were passed.

In the Upper House, divergent views were expressed over the bill to protect citizens’ privacy and security. The debate will continue at the Union Parliament during the next parliamentary term.

In the Union Parliament, lawmakers ratified an Asean protocol concerning an “enhanced” dispute-settlement mechanism.