Amendments of the Constitution: At stake is not just military but also the ethnic military groups

As to amendments of the Constitution, it is not easy to amend all aspects to prepare for 2015. At stake is not just military but also the ethnic military groups. The Constitution needs to be amended before 2015 and before 2020 step-by-step. We need to prepare the election in three parts:
(1) To arrange and prepare for the establishment of the “democratic federal union”
(2) To reorganize the balance of power to sustain national reconciliation
(3) To prepare free and fair election in 2015
The Constitution is difficult to amend, especially Chapter 12 Article 436 (A) and (B). I think everyone who is involved in amending the Constitution needs to understand the National Reconciliation Framework and know what to amend before and after 2015.
———————
436.(a)If it is necessary to amend the provisions of Sections 1 to 48 inChapter I, Sections 49 to 56 in Chapter II, Sections 59 and 60 in ChapterIII, Sections 74, 109, 141 and 161 in Chapter IV, Sections 200, 201,248 and 276 in Chapter V, Sections 293, 294, 305, 314 and 320 inChapter VI, Sections 410 to 432 in Chapter XI and Sections 436 inChapter XII of this Constitution, it shall be amended with the prior approvalof more than seventy-five percent of all the representatives of thePyidaungsu Hluttaw, after which in a nation-wide referendum only withthe votes of more than half of those who are eligible to vote.

(b)Provisions other than those mentioned in Sub-Section (a) shall beamended only by a vote of more than seventy-five percent of all therepresentatives of the Pyidaungsu
Hluttaw.

———-

CONSTITUTION

(1)

More than a week ago, I wrote that the current Myanmar’s economic, political and social agenda were showing signs vis-à-vis national reconciliation of possible backtracking.

The national reconciliation means bringing together the people including the national ethnic groups and the military, as their relations have been strained since 1962 when the military seized power. To achieve this, the military should take up its primary responsibility in defense of the country, and to refrain from governing and politics, and to give the power back to the people, who are real owners of the country. That is the goal of the national reconciliation.

(2)

The 2008 Constitution will need amendments to guide everyone on the path of national reconciliation. The upcoming 2015 Election should be free and fair. Notably, the time when the government starts to compromise and increase dialogue on the current reform process should coincide with the beginning to the amendments of the 2008 Constitution.

There are many undemocratic clauses, as well as those which are impractical and unbalanced in the 2008 Constitution.

Everybody including the President who took the key role in drafting the Constitution knew this. I think that there was only “one key person” who decided on it though thousands of people took part in the drafting.  So everybody knew that it would be easier to write a new one rather than to make amendments. But, making a new Constitution is a virtual impossibility. That would only lead to confrontation. Are we ready for that?

Actually, the National Reconciliation Framework should exist to accommodate the amendments or the drafting of a new Constitution. Regardless, we must continue to have national reconciliation as an ongoing objective. Time is only needed to negotiate, and all sides need to agree to the basic principles for the sake of well-being and development of the country.

(3)

As to amendments of the Constitution, it is not easy to amend all aspects to prepare for 2015. At stake is not just military but also the ethnic military groups. The Constitution needs to be amended before 2015 and before 2020 step-by-step. We need to prepare the election in three parts:

(1) To arrange and prepare for the establishment of the “democratic federal union”

(2) To reorganize the balance of power to sustain national reconciliation

(3) To prepare free and fair election in 2015

The Constitution is difficult to amend, especially Chapter 12 Article 436 (A) and (B). I think everyone who is involved in amending the Constitution needs to understand the National Reconciliation Framework and know what to amend before and after 2015. What I mean is that if the Constitution is to be amended, an agreement between the “Government, Parliament and Military” in addition to Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, and ethnic leaders will be needed. This is paramount because according to Article 436 (A), the Constitution can only be amended with the poll of more than half of the voters.

Thus the amendment of Article 436 (A) and (B) are important in first phase. As to amend in first phase, the government, the ruling party, the military, and Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic groups need to cooperate to have a general agreement. Therefore the 2008 Constitution can’t be amended just once. To have a general agreement, there will have to be at least two agreements among these stakeholders to amend the Constitution before 2015 and 2020.

(4)

(1) Regarding the creation of the federal union, it would take time to sort out the issues of structuring the Union’s military organization between the armed ethnic groups and the government military. To form the Union Army is something easier said than done.

Therefore, the first thing to do is to amend a number of articles in the second chapter of the Constitution. A key framework for negotiation is to allow the respective regions to elect their own regional government (i.e. regional governments should not be directly appointed by the President); to give the ethnic minorities more seats in the Central Government and the Union Parliament; and to enlarge the ratio of ethnic representatives in the regional parliaments among non-ethnic regions (such as Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw regions).

However, the Eight States policy (an ideological framework to have proportional representation among the eight major races of Myanmar) will be tantamount to disregarding democracy rights of the Bamar and its related races which represent 70 percent of the country’s total population. If it is insisting on that track of negotiation, it will just delay solving the actual problem. Just because it cannot be achieved, one cannot say it is chauvinism of Bamar people. When dealing with a problem, one needs to be practical.

(2) Regarding the power sharing and amendment of the Constitution, the agenda need to be discussed largely only with the incumbent military leaders. It is up to the political leaders to strive for the military to become a professional organization which stays away from politics and administration of the country. The time has come for Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic leaders to meet with the Commander-in-Chief and the other military leaders.

(3) For the 2015 election to be fair, both the people and international community have asked for amendment of Article 59 (F) of the Constitution. It is not a sound argument that the law cannot be amended just for “a person”, because the article was originally written with the aim of preventing Aung San Suu Kyi from being elected as President. The article should be amended when there are demands from the circumstance. This is because both 1947 and 1974 Constitutions did not have such Article, denying a person to become President if his or her children hold citizenship of a foreign country. The article was included only in the 2008 Constitution. Whether or not to amend the article is not something to be argued in terms of the legal grounds, but something to be argued in terms of the desire whether or not to strive for national reconciliation.

(5)

Actually, 50 per cent of Myanmar’s political future largely depends on the generosity of the military forces and whether or not they have goodwill towards the country. Some critics say that the dictators manipulated the military and caused dictatorship. I don’t see it like that. The military itself created dictatorship.  A scrutiny is needed to find out why the Commanders-in-Chief from General Ne Win, General San Yu, General Kyaw Htin, General Thura Tin Oo, Senior General Saw Maung to Senior General Than Shwe, apart from Major General Smith Dun (who was sacked due to the Kayin rebellion issue), became dictators (or) protectors of dictators. All the Commanders-in-Chiefs were not born rich and powerful but humble and from countryside origin. They never dreamed that they would become dictators. Dictatorship was brought about after they became leaders of the unrivalled and most powerful organization that has historical significance and the influence of the civil war.

Actually, the military is an organisation that has to follow structural orders. Everyone has to change when the Commander-in-Chief tells them to change. It depends on the Commander-in-Chief if the military is to stay clear from becoming dictatorial, and to transform to a truly professional organisation. Nevertheless, it is essential for the poorest country in Southeast Asia to build on the national reconciliation in order for it to move forward. We need to negotiate the practicality and without biasness of the past, which should be taken as a lesson. We must amend the 2008 Constitution within the National Reconciliation Framework and continue the forward journey.

http://elevenmyanmar.com/opinion/3656-i-will-tell-the-real-truth-16-part-2

scribd   https://democracyforburma.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/the-constitution-of-the-union-of-burma-1947/

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