Anti-PR upper house MPs petition tribunal

Anti-PR upper house MPs petition tribunal

Twenty-six MPs in Burma’s upper house of parliament this week signed a petition urging the constitutional tribunal to opine on whether a Proportional Representation (PR) electoral system would be in accordance with the Constitution.

The petition, signed by 26 MPs, including several from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and ethnic-based parties, was submitted to the constitutional tribunal via the upper house speaker on 1 December.

“The petition urges the tribunal to decide whether the two proposed designs for a proportional representation voting system are in line with the 2008 Constitution,” said NLD’s Aung Kyi Nyunt.

The NLD has been vocally opposed to calls for the current First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system being changed to PR.

According to official procedures under constitutional articles 14 and 15(d), MPs can submit a petition to the constitutional tribunal via the upper house speaker if they have signatures from at least 10 percent of the house.

There are 215 MPs in the upper house.

“We have found that Article 14 of the Constitution implies that a PR system would not be constitutional, so we wanted the tribunal to make a judgment on this.”

The petitioners have appointed Mandalay-based lawyer Khin Maung Than as their legal representative.

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The National Democratic Force party originally submitted proposals to the parliament’s upper and lower houses calling for a switch from FPTP to PR. Last week, the upper house voted to adopt PR in all elections nationwide. The lower house rejected the proposal earlier in November.

“This is due to the different electoral systems in the two houses,” said Aung Kyi Nyunt. “In the lower house, it would clearly be impossible to use a PR system as the house is formed with one representative from each of the 330 constituencies.

“But the upper house is formed with equal numbers of representatives from each administrative region – 12 representatives each – so the [upper house MPs] may assume that PR is suitable in elections covering many constituencies.”

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