Speaker insists on time limit for questions
Hoping to cut down on rambling commentaries and verbose pronouncements during question and answer sessions, the upper house Speaker told lawmakers to keep their queries within the three-minute mark.
LENGTHY and specific questions have become a headache in the upper house, with the Speaker issuing a three-minute time limit for MPs when they take the floor.
Speaking yesterday in Nay Pyi Taw, Amyotha Hluttaw Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than said anything north of three minutes was probably excessive.
“[After instating the three-minute limit], MPs asked questions in under three minutes and I was very glad for that because I have seen our representatives’ abilities are higher than before,” he said.
However, not all were so quick to adapt to the new rule, with six representatives taking more than their allotted time.
“[Yesterday] I saw questions that were more than three minutes. A question is not a proposal discussion. There is no need to include laws when they are questioning. [They should] ask only the points of the questions,” he said.
The level of detail many MPs insert into their lines of questioning was also time-consuming, the Speaker said.
“Representatives can make references to laws if they are discussing proposals, but referring to legal statutes when asking questions lengthens the questions, so I called on them to avoid it [the legal particulars],” he said.
Union Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Aung Thu complained that hluttaw MPs’ illinformed and misdirected questions were “annoying” for the ministry.
He was responding to questions from MP U Kyaw Than Tun (NLD; Mandalay 3) about Pyin Oo Lwin township farmlands that were confiscated for a mulberry tree planting project and later returned to the original owners.
“These vague questions are very annoying for the ministry,” said U Aung Thu. “Ask a specific question and I will answer certainly. If it is necessary to take action, then action will be taken.”
U Aung Thu explained that another ministry staff member was assigned to the issue at hand, and if he had been presented specific questions from the hluttaw ahead of time, he could have passed those questions along to the appropriate staffer.
“This information is not compiled by me but I make thorough checks,” he said. “You will have to ensure specificity for all of your questions … like ‘How many acres have been leased out?’ or ‘How many acres were seized?’” he said.
In October, senior NLD lawmakers told their more junior colleagues to stop asking questions or tabling proposals that made the government look bad. – Translation by San Layy, Zar Zar Soe, Win Thaw Tar
and Khine Thazin Han
MPs mingle in the parliamentary complex’s foyer.