This Week in Parliament (August 21 – 25)

By The Irrawaddy 26 August 2017

Monday (August 21)

In response to question from Nganzun Township MP U Min Thein about the usage of farmlands rented by citizens to non-citizens, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Hla Kyaw said that owners may report to nearby agricultural departments if non-citizen tenants exploit the land and cause soil degradation. He added that the agricultural departments may also take legal action against the breach of fertilizer and pesticide laws.

In the Upper House, in response to a question by MP U Kin Shein of Tanintharyi Region (9) about the provision of loans for township municipalities to carry out development work, Deputy Finance Minister U Hset Aung said that there is no current plan to take on foreign loans. The government’s priority, he said, is to focus on the economic development of the country.

Tuesday (August 22)

In response to Kawlin Township MP U Myo Zaw Aung’s question about the government’s plan to disseminate digital and information literacy on a wide scale among communities and students, Deputy Minister for Transport and Communications said that the information ministry operates a website, Facebook page, Twitter account and blog. Meanwhile, the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation has provided a digital information literacy master training to library staff of the information and public relations department who are tasked with disseminating information and promoting this type of literacy.

Lawmakers discussed the proposal of Arakanese lawmaker U Khin Maung Latt of the Arakan National Party, urging the Union government to take action against insurgents in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships in line with the 2014 Counter-Terrorism Law. Military representative Maj-Gen Than Soe raise objections to the discussion points raised by Daw Ei Ei Pyone of the National League for Democracy as she described the problems in Rakhine State as part of a “legacy of dictatorship” and criticized the military for not doing enough to protect local people despite its huge defense budget.

Wednesday (August 23)

MP U Aung Win of Hmawbi Township questioned asked about the prosecution of original farmland owners by those who confiscated their land while review committees continue to investigate the cases. Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Maj-Gen Aung Soe replied that land confiscation review committees are only responsible for reviewing the cases if lands are confiscated in line with the law, but not for solving land disputes and conflicts over inheritance. The committees cannot intervene in lawsuits filed by individuals and associations.

Lower House speaker U Win Myint criticized the deputy minister’s answer, saying it is ridiculous that poor farmers whose farmlands are grabbed illegally could be sued by those who grab their lands. “We should have sympathy for them,” he said.

U Khin Myo Win of Tanintharyi Region (12) asked about the government’s plans to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Hla Kyaw replied that his ministry has installed a vessel monitoring system for foreign fishing trawlers, and is also conducting a feasibility study in cooperation with the French Development Agency to install the system for local fishing trawlers.

Thursday (August 24)

The Lower House voted down Rathedaung Township MP Daw Khin Saw Wai’s proposal urging the Union government to intensify administrative and security efforts in northern Rakhine State.

In the Upper House, lawmakers discussed in favor of the proposal of Dr. Win Myint of Bago Region (11), which urged the government to establish a university solely focused on the sustainable development of the country’s fishery industry.

The Upper House passed a bill amending the 2013 Telecommunications Law, as per the amendments sent back from the Lower House.

Friday (August 25)

MP U Thaung Aye of the Union Solidarity and Development Party made an abortive attempt to submit an urgent proposal to the Union Parliament following attacks by Muslim militants on police and military targets in Rakhine State Thursday night and Friday morning.

The Union Parliament passed the bill amending the 2013 Telecommunications Law.