The Irrawaddy

This Week in Parliament (Dec 5-9)

Members of parliament attend a meeting at the lower house of Myanmar's parliament in Naypyitaw March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File Photo

Monday (Dec. 5)

In the Lower House, lawmakers asked questions about the expansion and improvement of health facilities in their constituencies as well as the promotion of Burmese traditional medicine.

In the Upper House, lawmakers asked about the repair and upgrading of schools in their constituencies plus the provision of educational opportunities for students in remote areas.

Tuesday (Dec. 6)

In the Lower House, lawmakers approved a proposal put forward by U Thaung Aye of Pyawbwe Constituency which urged the Union government to work for the all-around development of rural areas and the alleviation of poverty by implementing rural housing, modernized farming and by developing small and medium-sized enterprises.

In the Upper House, the chairman of Union Election Commission (UEC) submitted the second amendment to the UEC law.

There were reshuffles for chairperson, secretary and member posts of a number of parliamentary committees.

Wednesday (Dec. 7)

Lawmakers in the Union Parliament approved the President’s proposal to obtain a loan of JPN¥31.051 billion from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the construction of Thanlyin Bridge No. 3.

Parliamentarians debated the President’s proposal to obtain a loan of ¥93.970 million from JICA for the implementation of projects, but a decision was not yet reached.

The President sent a proposal to join the Asean Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which lawmakers will discuss at a later date in the Union Parliament.

Thursday (Dec. 8)

In the Lower House, seventeen lawmakers debated a proposal by Dr. Daw Khin Soe Moe Kyi of Pyay Constituency, which urged the Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank to deliver agricultural loans directly to the doors of farmers in rural villages. Under the current system, farmers have to take out loans at the respective bank branches. The Parliament simply recorded her proposal.

In response to a question by U Aung Sein of Dawei Township about the government’s crime prevention measures for public safety, deputy minister for Home Affairs Maj-Gen Aung Soe replied that his ministry is reviewing the existing criminal laws to prescribe harsher penalties for crimes as well as to promote community policing.

In the Upper House, U Tun Tun of Mandalay Constituency (2) said that it was in violation of existing laws that the China National Petroleum Corporation Southeast Asia Pipeline Co. Ltd. (CNPC-SEAP), the operator of Burma-China oil and gas pipeline, had bought much of the farmland directly from locals along the pipeline from Kyaukphyu, Arakan State, to Kunming, in China’s Yunnan Province. He asked the Ministry of Electric Power and Energy to sign new contracts. Deputy Minister for Electric Power and Energy Dr. Tun Naing replied that lands were confiscated as part of a project area of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise under the ministry, but not for ownership by foreign companies operating the pipeline. Therefore, it was not against the law, he said.

Friday (Dec. 9)   

U Myint Lwin, representing Twante Constituency in the Lower House, asked if the government had a plan to set up a hotline between lawmakers and administrative officials at national and subnational levels. Deputy minister for transportation and communications U Kyaw Myo replied that the government had no such plan, saying that complaints or petitions can be sent to the President and State Counselor through the online channels of “Letters to the President” and “Letters to the State Counselor” on the offices’ respective websites. He added that there is no international precedent for setting up hotlines between lawmakers and ministers.

Lawmakers from the Upper House made inquiries regarding the upgrading of roads and healthcare facilities in their respective constituencies.