This Week in Parliament

By The Irrawaddy 7 March 2020

Monday (March 2) 

Parliament took a day off to mark Peasants’ Day.

Tuesday (March 3) 

The Union Parliament continued heated debates on the charter amendment bills. Military lawmakers raised objections to a proposal to scrap an article that says the commander-in-chief of the defense services is the supreme commander of all the armed forces.

Military lawmaker Brigadier-General Win Moe discussed the proposed amendment regarding the right to recall lawmakers, insisting that the existing provision be kept unchanged.

The existing provision says a minimum of 1 percent of the original voters can submit a complaint with the Union Election Commission against their lawmaker. The proposed amendment suggests a minimum 20 percent of original voters should be required to file a complaint.

Wednesday (March 4)

At the Union Parliament, Brigadier-General Maung Maung, who leads military-appointed lawmakers, said the proposed amendments by the National League for Democracy (NLD) to the 2008 Constitution would undermine the democratic transition, national unity and civil-military relations.

Thursday (March 5)

NLD lawmaker U Ne Myo Tun objected when military member Lieutenant-Colonel Nyi Nyi Lwin asked who built the Parliament complex. In response to criticism over the military’s opposition to the charter amendment bills submitted by the NLD, the military lawmaker implied that the military would not have built the parliamentary buildings if it did not want democracy.

Arakan National Party (ANP) parliamentarian U Pe Than said he was shocked and sad that the NLD lawmakers objected to amending Article 261, which ethnic parties believe to be the first step toward a federal, democratic Union.

The amendment proposes to have chief ministers selected by their regional and state legislatures rather than appointed by the president. NLD lawmakers said the amendment would have granted greater authority to military lawmakers who also held 25 percent of the seats in the regional and state parliaments.

Friday (March 6) 

Questions were raised in the Upper House on whether the government planned to increase the rent for land leased to China’s Wanbao Mining Co. to operate the Letpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Region in line with market prices. It was also proposed that a higher level of compensation, preferably 19 million kyats (US$13,700) per acre, be paid to farmers who refused to accept compensation for land confiscated for the project.

The military-appointed deputy defense minister, Major-General Myint Naing, replied that further compensation was being given in line with the recommendations provided in the final report of Letpadaung Copper Mines Investigation Commission led by then-parliamentarian Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in 2013. Negotiations are ongoing with the farmers who refused to accept compensation but the government has no plan to increase compensation payments because it could impact other projects in Myanmar and the farmers who accepted compensation would demand further payments.

The Lower House approved for discussion a proposal submitted by lawmaker Dr. Aye Min. It urged the Union government to form community-based health awareness groups consisting of general practitioners, health care specialists and enthusiasts to boost health awareness and standards among the public.

According to the population and housing census of 2014, the average life expectancy in Myanmar is 66 and the average number of healthy years is 57.

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