Constitutional Law & Civil Rights

Mutual Trust necessary in amending Constitution: Thura U Shwe Mann

Date: 10 September 2018; Type: Legal News; Source: Myanmar Times

National reconciliation in the most important element in ensuring progress in Myanmar’s democratic transition, Thura U Shwe Mann, chair of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s Legal Affairs and Special Issues Assessment Commission, said on Friday.

“Both sides need to trust each other for national reconciliation. Doubts need to be reduced, so does ego. Leaders of organisations need to meet to talk more. This will greatly support national reconciliation,” he said in the DVB televised broadcast of a debate, “From Military Rule to Democracy.”

“Taking into consideration the security and the safety of the former leaders, the 2008 constitution was prescribed and the power was handed over to the next cabinet. In other words, the 2008 constitution was essential in the transition period,” Thura U Shwe Mann said.

Some complain that democracy cannot be smoothly established because of the 2008 Constitution, but if mutual trust can be built up, the constitution could be amended, he said.

“Mutual trust is needed. When doubts about each other are cleared, (amending the constitution) will become possible,” he said. It is necessary to determine who would be responsible to amend the constitution, who could change it, and to take on the task at the right time and in the right way, he said.

“It also depends on the seriousness of the person who can manage and decide on the 25 percent issue,” Thura U Shwe Mann said, referring to the charter’s stipulation that 25pc of seats in both houses of parliament is held by non-elected military officers. Moreover, if mutual trust is built, all Hluttaw MPs would become elected, he added.

No other country that has been through a transition like Myanmar’s has achieved the current status of Myanmar. Only Myanmar was able to make it, he said.

He asked the debate audience to imagine a situation without the 2008 Constitution, while affirming that there were many stipulations that were in line with democracy in the constitution.

“I am not discussing whether the constitution is good or bad - perfect or not. I am neither taking pride in that constitution nor putting blame on it. I just want you to see the reality,” he said.

The hluttaws emerged as a result of the 2008 Constitution, which was used as a basis for the transition from military to civilian rule and finally led to 75pc of seats being filled by elected representatives. Still, more reforms are needed, and the constitutional amendment was just one of them, he said.

The Tatmadaw (military) staged coups in 1962 and 1988, because of the desires and at the instructions of the then military leaders, he added. In whichever way the power is controlled, since the sovereign power belongs entirely to the people, it must undoubtedly be returned to the people, he said.

Instead of worrying about the past, focus on the present and, if all the people collaborate, it might lead to success, he said.

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