Parliament rejects reform of emergency act

A proposal in the People’s Parliament made by Thingangyun township’s representative Thein Nyunt to revoke the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act has been rejected by a vote in parliament yesterday.

Independent MP Thein Nyint submitted a proposal to the People’s Parliament to abolish the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, that was adopted under the pretext of an on-going civil war at the time, along with criminal laws relating to it.

His proposal was discussed by four Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) representatives and the parliament voted on whether to accept it or not – the results showed there were 336 votes against, 8 in favour and 41 abstaining votes, said representative Pe Than of Myebon township in Arakan State.

“All parliament representatives who discussed about the proposal spoke out against it and the Union Minister Ko Ko insisted that it should be rejected,” said Pe Than.

When the parliament’s speaker asked for U Thein Nyunt’s opinion, he called to parliament to go for a vote ‘democratically’ so the parliament conducting a voting by headcount.

“All 336 representatives from the military and the USDP stood against the proposal,” said Pe Than.

Thein Nyunt said he; “happily accepted the loss.”

He said he understood the rejection of his proposal showed that the situation with the civil war back in 1950 is still continuing, citing discussions by two USDP representatives from Karen State’s Myawaddy and Kachin State.

“According to their discussion, the country is not yet at peace – there are still external and internal destructive elements – so it is necessary to have the [emergency act] under security concerns,” said Thein Nyunt.

The parliament is overwhelmingly dominated by the military either serving or retired, with 25% of seats reserved automatically for the military and alleged widespread vote rigging in favour of the military proxy party the USDP.

The 1950 Emergency Provisions Act and relating criminal laws were passed by a parliament while the country was wracked by civil war as communists and Karen secessionists fought with the Burmese state. Critics allege that it is widely used by the Burmese government to persecute political activists and journalists.

Article 5 of the law makes it illegal to; “spread false news” or to “to rally people” or “to make the public lose trust in the State’s economy.”

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