Speaker talks govt checks and balances
Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker U Win Myint gavelled the lower house into recess last week insisting that lawmakers are fulfilling their role as a check on the other two branches of government.
AT a press conference following the conclusion of the second regular sitting of the Pyithu Hluttaw on October 7, Speaker U Win Myint instructed lower house lawmakers to be mindful of the separation of powers in government.
“When the legislative body provides checks and balances, it needs to be aware not to disrupt the executive and judicial branches beyond the existing limited boundaries,” he said.
“By applying [powers] separately, it prevents the misuse of power and will further the culture of democracy,” he added.
His remarks come at a time when some are questioning the extent to which the National League for Democracy-dominated legislature is truly independent of the NLD-led executive branch. The party’s lawmakers were told last week that they were not to raise “tough questions” that reflect poorly on the government, and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has carved out a role for herself that effectively straddles the legislative-executive divide.
Responding to criticism that NLD MPs had effectively been muzzled and told to rubber-stamp for the government, U Win Myint said his colleagues are free to act according to their own “morals”.
“What I want to say is, look at what we are doing in the Pyithu Hluttaw and whether we are providing checks and balances or not,” he said at the press conference in Nay Pyi Taw. “Everybody is heard at the Pyithu Hluttaw. Everybody will have heard how we ask questions, how we discuss proposals, how we criticise projects and budgets that are reported by the government.”
As MPs take time over the legislative recess to return to their constituencies, U Win Myint offered a friendly reminder that “lawmakers must not be lawbreakers”, a turn of phrase used last month by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi when she spoke to regional lawmakers at the 37th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.
The Speaker also urged lawmakers to use their time off to listen to the concerns of their constituents.
The 47-day second session of the Pyithu Hluttaw concluded last week with lawmakers having approved 10 out of 19 bills discussed, with the remainder to be deliberated further when the lower house reconvenes, according to state media. More than 600 questions were put forward and addressed in the lower chamber.
Lawmakers first took their seats in parliament on February 1. A date for the beginning of the Pyithu Hluttaw’s third regular session has not yet been set.
– Translation by San Layy