The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw held a second debate on the report submitted by the Joint Committee on Amending the 2008 Constitution during its seventh-day meeting, 13th regular session, yesterday.
Speaker U T Khun Myat first announced that the assembly will continue hearing MPs remaining to debate on the joint committee’s report. He said the comments of certain MPs during the previous meetings contained unsuitable language that threatened to undermine ethnic solidarity, and were consequently erased from the Hluttaw records.
The Speaker said while the assembly had been notified to debate only on the contents of the report and its suggestions and opinions, MPs have been found to be providing suggestions that are linked towards making amendments to a bill.
The Speaker urged the Hluttaw representatives to focus their debate on only the content of the report and warned them be mindful of comments that may subvert the integrity of any one department, organization, individual or ethnic race.
Debate on constitution amendment report begins
Firstly, MP U Sai Tun Sein of Mongpyin constituency said he did not oppose amending the Constitution and supports making necessary changes to benefit the nation. He said all MPs have sworn an oath of office in line with Schedule Four, Section 125 of the Constitution and had to adhere to this oath while ensuring consistency with existing laws.
Next, MP U Soe Thein of Kayah State constituency 9 said the actual process of making changes to the Constitution requires ample time for serious consideration and implementation. He asked what criteria were used to assign priority among the 3,765 amendment suggestions made by the 45-member joint committee.
He said voiced his opinion that while there may be facts that indeed require amending, negotiating the determination, possibilities and obligations would be the more suitable course of action. He said none of the members of the current constitution amendment committee are legal experts and thus, their meetings are akin to drafting a new constitution instead.
The MP rejected section 23 of the joint committee’s report and suggested forming a commission to draft a new constitution, with members comprised of legal experts, historians and representatives of the 135 ethnic groups, political parties, civil servants, EAOs implementing the peace process, the farmers and labourers, Hluttaw representatives and other necessary individuals.
Next, MP U Pe Thein of Myebon constituency said having the resolve to amend the Constitution shows the admiration for democracy and belief in the federal system. He said those in authority must balance the wants, needs and potential of the situation and be careful not to fan the flames.
After that, MP U Khin Maung Thi of Loilem constituency said the joint committee’s report does not provide clear explanations nor complies with sections 433 and 434, Chapter XII, of the Constitution that outline the steps to make amendments to it. Therefore, this report should not be continued and further processes should follow Chapter XII, suggested U Khin Maung Thi.
Following, MP U Toe Win of Tamway constituency said the joint committee’s report was complied by members from 14 political parties and nonpartisan MPs elected by the people. As such, it cannot be denied that this report does not represent the interest of the people, he said. He urged everyone to show their support to the joint committee’s reports, citing solidarity as the strength of a nation heading towards a democratic federal republic. Next, MP U Thet Naung of Lahe constituency close inspection of the joint committee’s report reveals that they have adhered to their own five objectives outlined in section three of the report. He said this and the 3,765 amendment proposals indicate that the 2008 Constitution needs further progress to become a genuine reflection of the will of the people and democratic values.
U Thet Naung called for MPs to grasp the opportunity to make progress towards reconciliation and peace and unite the nation’s internal strength. He said sections 22 and 24 of the joint committee’s report show plans to follow the provisions in the 2008 Constitution and draft and submit a bill to amend it. He urged MPs to practice open-minded negotiations with each other as they work together on this matter. He seconded the motion approve the
Next, MP U Yi Mon (a) U Tin Thit of Pobbathiri constituency said amending the Constitution will bring the likelihood of achieving peace, ending armed conflicts and establishing a democratic federal republic much closer. He said failing to amend it would mean the government elected by the people would be deprived of a portion of its authority in handling national affairs.
He said the 45-member joint committee has performed their duties with constructive intention and enthusiasm, and the process must be continued until a proper bill to amend the constitution materializes to carry out the provisions in Chapter XII.
U Yi Mon said the duty to make the Constitution more democratic and incorporate genuine federalism is now present before the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.
He urged MPs to take this opportunity to fulfil their responsibilities as representatives of the public.
The report was then further debated by 17 Hluttaw representatives.
The report compiled by the Joint Committee on Amending the 2008 Constitution was first submitted to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on 15 July. Since then, it has been debated once on 30 July by 17 MPs, and again by 24 MPs in yesterday’s meeting. The remaining programmes related to the report will be announced in a future date.—Myo Myint, Han Maw (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)