Myanmar’s Upper House of Parliament on Monday decided to discuss a bill aiming to amend a law on the rights offered to temporary citizens.
Parliament consented to discuss the bill submitted by Upper House MP Aye Maung, chairman of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, on August 23. All the military representatives in parliament voted ‘yes’ despite earlier opposition from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
—–When U Aye Maung asked to vote for changing the voting rights should scrap for white cards holders, NLD didn’t stand up to agree to amend.—-
“We showed our support [for the bill] because this is a law which needs discussion. If we support or oppose, we always do it with the outlook of national politics which is supposed to serve the national interests. We do not seek individual or party interests,” MP Brigadier General Kyaw Oo Lwin told Daily Eleven.
The bill aims to amend the Political Parties Registration Law which critics say allows temporary citizens, or white card holders, to vote or establish political parties.
Many white card holders were allowed to cast votes in Rakhine State during the last elections in 2010, allowing members of the ruling party to win parliamentary seats. Some estimate white card holders now number over 500,000 in Rakhine State.
Dr Aye Maung, who proposed the bill, said he was happy with the approval to discuss the bill, saying it aimed at amending the rights of non-citizens to vote or establish political parties.
“How can non-citizens guarantee our national objectives? How can we know they can be loyal to the state sovereignty? I want to highlight the important message that political parties should have their firm national goals of national security and national interest. Those wishing to establish political parties must have the highest degree of loyalty to the state,” said Dr. Aye Maung.
The proposed 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 Political Parties Registration 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.
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.
MP Zaw Myint Pe, USDP member and chairman of Upper House Bill Committee, has emphasised that discussion was needed whether the proposed bill was compatible with the constitution or not.
“The bill related to political parties needs stances and opinions from the committee. It is difficult to decide immediately. Some say the bill is not compatible with the constitution. This can be decided by the Constitutional Tribunal only,” said Zaw Myint Pe.