Change the Cabinet, Not the Constitution: USDP

By Htet Naing Zaw 4 October 2018

NAYPYITAW—There is no need to change the 2008 Constitution in order to achieve the reforms people have anticipated in Myanmar—simply changing the cabinet will do, said Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) chairman U Than Htay during his party’s election campaign in Chin State on Wednesday.

“There is no need to amend or rewrite the constitution. What should be changed is the people,” he said, referring to existing cabinet members.

“Just assign those who are able to work according to that constitution in their place. [I guarantee] there will be immediate change,” said the chairman in a live broadcast feed on social media during the opposition party’s election campaign in Chin State’s Kanpetlet Township.

In Myanmar, only the USDP can bring about national development by exercising the 2008 Constitution, he said, adding that his party does not accept the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) holding the Constitution as an excuse to defend its shortcomings.

“The USDP was able to spur national development with the existing constitution,” he said.

The NLD came to power with its campaign promises to amend the 2008 Constitution, achieve rule of law and national peace. The USDP will never achieve success as long as it clings on the 2008 Constitution, said the NLD’s information officer, Monywa Aung Shin.

“There are certain restrictions imposed by the 2008 Constitution. We can get around some restrictions, but others we can’t. That’s why we are talking [about amending it]. As long as they cling to the 2008 Constitution, they will never win the support of the people, I am sure,” Monywa Aung Shin told The Irrawaddy.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD party accepted the 2008 Constitution and contested in the 2012 by-elections and 2015 general relations. Rather than blaming the restrictions it imposes, they should find ways and means to achieve better results out of it, said political commentator and writer Zarni Soe Htut.

“It is because of the 2008 [Constitution] that U Than Shwe stepped down, and U Thein Sein came to office. [The NLD] should gradually march toward their goal, and move closer and closer to it over time. The army and the USDP won’t like it if [the NLD] says the 2008 Constitution is not good. So rather than saying 2008 Constitution is not good, [NLD] should work for the betterment of all,” he said.

Citizens should vote for the USDP in November’s by-elections if they want a brighter future, said U Than Htay.

“We are not inexperienced people. We have proper experience of running the government so we understand how to manage the country,” said the chairman claiming that the country saw more progress under the previous government.

“There are a number of factors—goodwill, willingness and sympathy from those in power toward the public, as well as their knowledge, industry, diligence and many other things. The magnitude of these will decide the outcome. It is nothing to do with the constitution,” said U Than Htay.

Amending the constitution requires a minimum 76 percent of votes in the Union Parliament where the military holds 25 percent of the seats.