Speaker talks govt checks and bal­ances

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com

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

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