Up­per house MPs ob­ject to re­moval of ban on protest in­duce­ments

The Myanmar Times - - News - SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun and Zar Zar Soe

AN up­per house law­maker is chal­leng­ing a de­ci­sion by the lower cham­ber to re­move a pro­vi­sion of the Peace­ful Assem­bly and Pro­ces­sion Law mak­ing it il­le­gal to in­cen­tivise in­di­vid­u­als to join a demon­stra­tion.

Sec­tion 9(i) – which states that “no one is al­lowed to en­gage in a peace­ful demon­stra­tion or pro­ces­sion by tak­ing money or some­thing else” – was re­moved by the Pyithu Hlut­taw in amend­ments to the leg­is­la­tion ear­lier this year.

Par­lia­men­tar­ian U Aung Thein (NLD; Bago 12) was among four MPs to dis­cuss the law on Septem­ber 9, telling fel­low law­mak­ers that he did not know why the lower house had re­moved the ban on in­duce­ments.

A known prece­dent for such be­hav­iour made the ban on in­duced protests nec­es­sary, U Aung Thein ar­gued.

“In some cases of assem­bly or pro­ces­sion, some peo­ple are paid money or some­thing. Dur­ing the 2015 elec­tion cam­paign, a po­lit­i­cal party that could af­ford to spend money paid K3000 [US$2.47] or K5000 to have a big group of sup­port­ers. It showed its strength by pro­vid­ing them with food or a hat or T-shirt. We have such ex­am­ples,” he said.

Amyotha Hlut­taw law­maker U Soe Thein (NLD; Thanintharyi 10), also known as U Maung Soe, also ar­gued for the im­por­tance of sec­tion 9(i).

He said he ob­jected to its re­moval by the Pyithu Hlut­taw be­cause it was in­tended to de­ter peo­ple from re­cruit­ing protest par­tic­i­pants, typ­i­cally tar­get­ing the im­pov­er­ished, who oth­er­wise would have no de­sire to join.

The Pyithu Hlut­taw’s amend­ment bill left seven of the leg­is­la­tion’s orig­i­nal points un­changed, amended 24 points, re­moved sec­tion 9(i) and added one point.

U Soe Thein also ob­jected to the Pyithu Hlut­taw ad­di­tion, which pro­hibits “be­hav­iour that would dam­age pub­lic prop­er­ties and pri­vate prop­er­ties at the per­mit­ted assem­bly point or along pro­ces­sional route and be­hav­iour which would dirty the sur­round­ings”.

He said the Pub­lic Prop­erty Pro­tec­tion Act al­ready crim­i­nalised dam­ag­ing pub­lic or pri­vate prop­erty with a pun­ish­ment of up to seven years in prison.

Fol­low­ing last week’s dis­cus­sion, the Amyotha Hlut­taw speaker an­nounced that the Peace­ful Assem­bly and Pro­ces­sion Law would be sent back to the up­per house bill com­mit­tee for re­view.

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