Burma’s parliamentary Joint-Committee for Reviewing the Constitution (JCRC) is set to propose a constitutional amendment to Article 436 – the controversial clause that effectively bars any reform of the charter without full military approval – at the next session of parliament commencing on 28 May.
Tin Maung Oo, an MP for the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and member of the JCRC, said the joint-committee is prioritising an amendment to Chapter 12, Article 436, based on recommendations from the public, and the fact that no other changes to the Constitution can be initiated without first lifting the restrictions imposed by 436.
“Our decision to prioritise amending Chapter 12, Article 436, is based on recommendations we have received from the public sector,” he said. “The Constitution is a crucial component of the nation, and the time to change it is now. But we cannot move ahead without amending this article first.”
Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, has in recent months mounted a countrywide campaign, calling for public support for her party’s proposal to enact constitutional reform and, in particular, overturn Article 436. Suu Kyi has reiterated on each step of her campaign that Article 436 dictates that any proposals to amend clauses of the 2008 Constitution must be approved by 75 percent of representatives in both houses of parliament. As the military holds 25 percent of all seats, it effectively holds veto power over the Constitution, she says.
The 31-member JCRC is comprised of representatives from the Burmese military, as well as MPs from the USDP, NLD, Chin Progressive Party, All Mon Region Democracy Party, Shan Nationalities Democratic Party, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party, Pa-O National League, National Democratic Force, and National Unity Party.
Under condition of anonymity, one JCRC member also told DVB that the joint-committee was also considering proposals to change the term “Union”, when referring to the country, to “Federal Union”.