This Week in Parliament (Feb. 5-9)

By The Irrawaddy 10 February 2018

Monday (Feb. 5)

U Tin Aye, a Lower House representative for Matman Township, asked the government to clarify how it planned to communicate to the people of Myanmar and the international community that there is no such ethnic group as the Rohingya in Myanmar. Union Minister for Labor, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe replied that the government has repeatedly stated that the Rohingya are not included in the official list of ethnic groups in Myanmar and had always protested whenever the term was used. U Tin Aye said it would be very difficult for Myanmar to resist the pressure of powerful organizations like the UN and the OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] without an explicit denial of the existence of the Rohingya as an ethnic group in Myanmar.

U Thein Swe also responded to a question raised by Dr. San Shwe Win of Yegyi Township asking the government whether it has a plan to develop a national population policy based on assessments of health, education, labor force and social and economic development. The minister said the government had formed a national level population and development commission to communicate with organizations relating to population growth and to develop policies, laws, rules and regulations under Order No. 48/2011 on Nov. 24, 2011. However, the commission was dissolved under Order No. 51/2016 on March 29, 2016 and the ministry has now sought the approval of the Union government to reestablish the commission to develop a national population policy in cooperation with related ministries, the minister said.

Tuesday (Feb. 6)

Representative Dr. Soe Moe Thu of Myaungmya Township asked the government whether it had a plan to open a nursing and midwifery training school in Myaungmya in honor of Thirithudhamma Daw Khin Kyi, who was a native of the town. Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr. Myint Htwe replied that the ministry had received permission to use a piece of farmland for the training school but it still needed to apply to the General Administration Department for a land grant. It will build the training school when it receives the land grant, the minister said.

Wednesday (Feb. 7)

Lower House Representative U Aung Thaung Shwe tabled a motion calling on the government to transparently implement effective long- and short-term plans to protect the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and to ensure the security of ethnic Rakhine people in northern Rakhine State. The session approved the motion for debate. The representative said he had tabled the motion as indigenous people had been forced to abandon their homeland due to violent attacks and threats of a disproportionate population ratio resulting from massive illegal immigration.

Thursday (Feb. 8)

Twelve representatives discussed a motion tabled in the Lower House by Dr. Soe Soe Kyi of Pyay Township urging the government to speed up efforts to develop acre plots of farmland for use in developing mechanized farming in the Lower House. Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Livestock U Hla Kyaw responded by saying that the government had been developing acre plots of farmland for farmers. Although most farmers agreed to the plan, some objected to it and the government was trying to persuade them to accept, he said. The session decided to put the motion on the record.

In the Upper House session, Representative U Kyaw Ni Naing of Shan State asked the government what it had been doing to help internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the country. Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye said the ministry had set up a rehabilitation department to run effective relief operations for the IDPs.

Friday (Feb. 9)

Representative U Aung Hlaing Win of Mingalardon Township asked the government whether it would grant permission to operate foreigner-only casinos on islands that receive foreign tourists in order to develop tourism and increase tax revenue. Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Ohn Maung said the ministry would do so after the Gambling Act has been amended and the necessary permissions from the department received.