Opposition scholar: Charter review movement “could be” a red herring

The 2008 constitution review movement initiated b y MPs from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) could be an attempt to raise false hopes  among the people and the opposition, according to Hkun Okker regarded as the constitutional expert in the 11 party alliance the United Nationalities Federal Council. (UNFC).

Hkun Okker
“The 109 Constitutional Review Committee (CRC)’s principal job is to compile the wishes of the people and report them to the parliament,” he said. “They don’t have the power to recommend any changes. Entertaining too much hope in it therefore could be premature.”

He also suspects the motive behind the directive that has placed all the 15 chapters of the military-drawn constitution for review but not its preamble, that begins with:

Myanmar is a Nation with magnificent historical traditions. We, the National People, have been living in unity and oneness, setting up an independent sovereign state and standing tall with pride.

“We didn’t have the historical tradition of living in oneness,” he argued. “We are for Unity in Diversity, not for oneness.”

He allows that some of the most-in-demand articles might be amended. “But we must also be aware that instead of changing an article to make things better, they can also change it to make things worse,” he said.

A 109-member CRC was formed last July by the Union Parliament and a 5-member sub-committee was formed in each state/region last month to collect suggestions and comments from the people, parties and civil society organizations. The deadline for them has been set at 15 November. The CRC will be reportedly reporting the findings to the parliament before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the National League for Democracy (NLD) is conducting a survey countrywide to sound out their wishes with regards to 9 of the charter’s 15 Chapters: Basic principles (1), State structure (3), Executive (5), Judiciary (6), Defense Services (7), Citizenship, Human Rights and Duties of citizens (8), Political parties (10), Provisions on state of emergency (11) and Amendment of the Constitution (12).

According to Sai Nyunt Lwin, General Secretary of the Shan Nationalities league for Democracy (SNLD), amendment or the rewrite of the constitution will depend on the outcome of the nationwide political dialogue due to be held next year. “This is not the time to argue whether or not a new constitution must be written.”


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