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People’s Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann opened the second parliamentary session in Nayipyidaw today in which he said he welcomed suggestions from the public and the international community. While a number of new committees were inaugurated.
Shwe Mann, addressing members of parliament, guests and journalists, described the event as democratic because journalists were present. Reporting on the ongoings of parliament is usually strictly controlled, with journalists rarely allowed inside.
However he also urged MP’s to; “learn from experiences in the past and do what is necessary to do in today’s circumstances with courage and unity.”
“So the parliament needs to be competent and strong,” adding that; “we need to keep working to build it strong while improving the capacity of individual parliament representatives via various trainings. It is also necessary for [representatives] to understand and respect each other to maintain unity in the parliament.”
Many of Burma’s MP’s are former military officers and therefore lack basic skills necessary for their job as an MP, with one member of a parliamentary board charged with financial oversite in the past telling DVB that she had to teach others how to perform basic tasks on a computer.
However Shwe Mann said he was proud to see the parliament’s representatives working for what he claimed to be the interests of the people, the union and the country.
Regarding draft bills submitted to the parliament by representatives, he said; “it is necessary to adopt laws to serve and protect the interest of the country and the people. We also have to work for the citizens’ fundamental rights, democracy and human rights.”
All bills submitted to parliament have to be assessed by the speaker of the house and can be declined without reason. As a result MP’s are extremely restricted as to what can be discussed in parliament.
Shwe Mann was the junta number 3 behind Than Shwe and Maung Aye, a vetaran commander and four star general who earned the title ‘Thura’, meaning brave, in fighting the Karen National Liberation Army in the 1980’s.
As a result Shwe Mann is regarded as a conservative member of Burma’s nominally democratic government.
However the second session of Burma’s parliament comes amidst relative optimism that reform is occurring following talks between opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi with President, Thein Sein. Her first meeting with Burma’s President on her first ever visit to the capital Naypyidaw.
Talking to DVB on the second session Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) National Parliament MP and business man Khin Shwe, appointed to lead the National Parliament Education, Health and Culture Committee said 8-new committees were formed in the National Parliament or upper house;
“Committees were formed in our National Parliament as well as in the People’s Parliament. Apparently, some former government ministers and [former Rangoon] mayor U Aung Thein Linn as well as U Thein Myint were among the list of nominees to lead the committees as well as – members appointed out of parliament representatives.”
Regarding future work by his committee, Khin Shwe said: “We need to figure out whether we will build schools at where students are, or send the students’ to where the schools are – we might need to open a workshop for that. Colleges out of the town is not really good for transportation and the students’ morale. We need to review our education system to make it a strong and healthy system which encourages students to make inputs themselves [in studying] and abandon the parrot-learning system.”
The new committees from the National Parliament will be; Ethnic Affairs and Domestic Peace, Citizens’ Fundamental Rights and Overseas Burmese Nationals, National Planning and Finance, Education, Health and Culture, Women and Children, Public Complaints and Appeal, UN ASEAN & ASEAN Inter Parliamentary Assembly, International Liaison, Peasants and Domestic & Overseas Labour.
The Burmese parliaments sit in two three-month sessions per year.