Myanmar’s Upper House of Parliament has suspended the discussion of a bill amending a provision on citizenship requirements in the Political Parties Registration Law following objection from an MP from the ruling party.
Dr Aye Maung of Rakhine State Constituency No.1 submitted the bill during a parliamentary session of the Upper House in Nay Pyi Taw on Friday.
The bill suggests that “citizens, guest citizens or naturalized citizens or those holding temporary citizenship cards (white cards)” under Section 4 Sub-section (a) of the law should be amended to say “citizenship”.
It also recommends that “those wishing to establish a political party must apply together with their name, father’s name, occupation, home address, date of birth, citizenship scrutiny card, national registration card, guest citizenship card and naturalization card or white card” prescribed under Section 5 Sub-section (d) should be amended to say “citizenship scrutiny card” instead of those words.
Moreover, the word ‘citizenship’ should be used in place of “citizens, guest citizens, naturalized citizens or those holding white cards as stated under Section 10 Subsection (a) of the law, says the bill.
“The constitution says under Article 369 (a) that those who have the right to elect and right to be elected to parliament are the citizens. Moreover, Article 345 (a) of the constitution and Sections 2, 3 and 5 of the 1982 Citizenship Law says who should be the citizens of Myanmar. As establishing political parties is concerned with the citizens only, the constitution or other relevant laws should all be compatible. So the Political Parties Registration Law needs amendments,” said Dr Aye Maung.
However, MP Hla Swe of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party stated his objection saying that the amendments went against the constitution.
“When it comes to the formation of political parties, Article 404 (a) and (b) of the constitution say that a political party must set the objective of non-disintegration of the Union, non-disintegration of national solidarity and perpetuation of sovereignty and must be loyal to the State. In that regard, those people are citizens, guest citizens or naturalized citizens. They have the equal right. So it is impossible to make amendments by going against the constitution. This is why I opposed it,” Hla Swe said.
Then, Upper House Speaker Khin Aung Myint announced that the decision would be made later through voting.
The Rakhine nationals in Rakhine state showed their dissatisfaction when the election took place in their region 2010 because the Bengalis could vote though they held white cards.
The debate over a clear definition of citizenship comes after a question has emerged about white card (naturalization) holders in the upcoming election in 2015.