Burma’s Joint-house Committee for Reviewing the Constitution has announced through state media that it is seeking advice from political, legal, administrative and public stakeholders on how to proceed with moves to either amend or rewrite the 2008 constitution.
According to a statement on Friday in the government-run The New Light of Myanmar, the committee said it “would seek assessment and advice from the Legislative Pillar, Administrative Pillar and Judicial Pillar through Pyidaungsu Hluttaw [the Union Assembly], and would seek assessment and advice of political parties, organisations and individuals.”
The 109-member Committee set a deadline of 15 November for the submission of such advice and assessment.
The statement coincides with an announcement by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) that it is conducting public surveys across Burma to request public opinion on whether to amend or completely rewrite the constitution.
Lawyer Ko Ni, a member of the NLD’s Constitution Amendment Committee, said the party has formed a team to conduct workshops in cities and towns across Burma to explain to people the issues surrounding the constitution and to listen to their opinions.
“We plan to educate the public about the constitution – what it is and how it is important for the country,” he said. “A democratic constitution should: (a) be based on the public’s will; (b) vest state powers to the public. The 2008 constitution is not in accord with either of these requirements. It was drafted without the public’s accord and it does not offer power to the public. That’s why we would like to change it.
“But a lot of tough challenges lie ahead – there are many articles to change so we want the public to choose—whether to amend or completely rewrite the constitution.”
He said the party is discussing plans to organise workshops at district and township levels but aims to complete the survey no later than the end of November when it will forward its findings to the Burmese parliament’s Joint-house Committee for Reviewing the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the United States on Thursday voiced hope that Burma would reform its constitution in time for the 2015 elections.
“We hope constitutional reform will occur in time to ensure that Burma’s next elections in 2015 will be fully free and fair and provide the Burmese people the ability to freely choose their country’s leadership,” said Jason Rebholz, a US State Department spokesman.
The current constitution of Burma was approved in a referendum in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis which devastated the southwest of the country in May 2008. The referendum was roundly condemned by observers; however the government claimed that 92 percent of the voting population had supported it at the polls.