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”.
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.”