This Week in Parliament (Feb. 27-March 3)

By The Irrawaddy 4 March 2017

Burma’s Parliament saw a storm of controversy this week over the extension of U Shwe Mann’s Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission and an ethnic Mon lawmaker’s proposal to name a bridge after independence hero Gen Aung San.

Monday (Feb. 27)

In Union Parliament, the Burma Army objected to a proposal to extend the term of the Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission chaired by former general U Shwe Mann, stating that it was not formed in line with the 2008 military-drafted Constitution. The proposal was put to vote and approved despite the army’s objection.

Lawmakers debated the 2017-18 fiscal year national planning bill, and approved the president’s proposal to obtain a loan of 5 million euros from Germany’s KfW Development Bank to upgrade the Myanmar Railways Ywa Htaung locomotive plant.

Tuesday (Feb. 28)

In the Lower House, lawmaker Mi Kon Chan from Burma’s ruling National League for Democracy, who represents Mon State’s Paung Township, submitted a proposal to name a bridge across the Salween River in Mon State after independence icon Gen Aung San. Parliament approved discussion of the proposal despite serious concerns and objections from locals.

U Win Thein Zaw of Salingyi Township asked if the government would make sure no more land was confiscated from farmers in the Letpadaung copper mining project and that companies follow the recommendations of the Letpadaung Investigation Commission.

Union minister for resources and environmental conservation U Ohn Win replied that the original project area was 7867 acres and that authorities had returned 905.58 acres. He said copper mining would be carried out on the remaining 6961.42 acres of land and that no more land would be confiscated. The committee to implement the recommendations of the Letpadaung Investigation Commission was formed in March 2013 and has yet to implement 5 of the 42 recommendations.

The Lower House approved a proposal by U Khin Cho of Hlinebwe Township that urged the Union government to take an active, leading role in promoting the bamboo cultivation sector.

In the Upper House, U Htay Oo of Rangoon Constituency (2) asked if the government would arrange for judges and law enforcement personnel to conduct classes at least once a week at high schools in order to revitalize rule of law in Burma. Deputy minister for education U Win Maw Tun replied that both old and new curriculums for basic education schools include lessons on morality and civic duties; and that his ministry currently had no plan to organize classes on the law.

Wednesday (March 1)

In Union Parliament, Union ministers discussed the national planning bill. Parliament approved the bill to protect the individual privacy and security of citizens.

The bill prohibits household arrests and inspections without a warrant as well as surveillance of individuals and their private communications in a manner that harms their privacy or dignity, and prescribes prison terms of up to five years and a fine of 2,500,000 kyats (US$2,050) for each violation.

It sets a fine for anyone who phone taps at 300,000 to 1.5 million kyats. It also prohibits detention of a person for more than 24 hours—except that it is allowed under another existing law.

Thursday and Friday (March 2-3)

There were no parliamentary sessions on Thursday, which was Peasants’ Day, or Friday.