USDP mo­tion against US sanc­tions nixed by MPs

Na­tional League for Democ­racy MPs who op­posed the pro­posal said US sanc­tions would be lifted only after tar­geted in­di­vid­u­als “con­duct them­selves well in demo­cratic af­fairs”.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­ – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

A PRO­POSAL that the gov­ern­ment should lobby for the re­moval of US eco­nomic sanc­tions has been shot down in the lower house, after the mo­tion was sub­mit­ted by a Union Sol­i­dar­ity and De­vel­op­ment Party mem­ber.

MP U Than Soe (USDP; Thazi) tabled a pro­posal yes­ter­day “urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to strive for lift­ing US eco­nomic sanc­tions on Myan­mar”.

The mo­tion re­ceived the back­ing of fel­low USDP MP Sai Tun Sein (Mine Pyin/Mong Ping), who said the mo­tion de­served to be dis­cussed.

The NLD-ma­jor­ity Pyithu Hlut­taw saw 219 MPs vote against the pro­posal, with 151 votes be­ing cast in favour, as well as 16 ab­sten­tions.

Myan­mar has faced eco­nomic sanc­tions from the United States since 1997, when the mil­i­tary regime was sin­gled out for bru­tal sup­pres­sion of the pro-democ­racy move­ment.

U Than Soe pointed to last year’s demo­cratic elec­tions and the trans­fer of power fa­cil­i­tated by then-pres­i­dent U Thein Sein’s gov­ern­ment as proof of progress, reg­is­ter­ing his dis­ap­point­ment that this had not been re­warded by whole­sale re­moval of sanc­tions.

“The US said it will pro­vide help and en­cour­age Myan­mar’s [demo­cratic tran­si­tion]. But in re­al­ity it is found that [the US] is not as good as its word. Sadly, it ex­tended sanc­tions in May, rather than with­draw­ing [them],” he said.

Sai Tun Sein said sanc­tions could be con­sid­ered an im­ped­i­ment to the coun­try’s demo­cratic trans­for­ma­tion, which, if lifted, could prove a boon to the econ­omy and fos­ter fur­ther po­lit­i­cal re­form.

USDP MP U Maung Myint (Min­gin) ques­tioned whether re­ject­ing the pro­posal out­right sig­ni­fied tacit sup­port of on­go­ing sanc­tions by the Na­tional League for Democ­racy.

“The sanc­tions are not good for our coun­try. [The NLD] needs to think again if the gov­ern­ment re­ally has good in­ten­tions for its peo­ple,” he said.

Shan Na­tion­al­i­ties League for Democ­racy MP Sai Thiha Kyaw (Mine-ye/Mong Yai) said he felt the pro­posal war­ranted dis­cus­sion, and should be put be­fore the par­lia­ment. “Re­ject­ing the pro­posal [in ab­so­lute terms] with­out al­low­ing dis­cus­sion means we agree with US sanc­tions on our coun­try,” he said.

The NLD’s U Hla Moe (Aung Myay Tharzan), sec­re­tary of the Pyithu Hlut­taw Rights Com­mit­tee, said the is­sue of tar­geted sanc­tions fell out­side par­lia­ment’s re­mit.

“There’s no rea­son to put up a pro­posal for it. And there’s no rea­son to dis­cuss it, be­cause the sanc­tions are im­posed for those who are ob­struc­tions to the coun­try’s demo­cratic move­ments, not for the [whole] coun­try. So the par­lia­ment doesn’t need to urge to ease them,” he said.

“If [sanc­tioned in­di­vid­u­als] can con­duct them­selves well in demo­cratic af­fairs … the sanc­tions on them will be lifted.”

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