Daw Phyu Phyu Thin was one of 43 members of the National League for Democracy elected in the April 1, 2012, by-election to serve in parliament. She now represents Yangon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt township in the Pyithu Hluttaw. The Myanmar Times spoke with her on December 19 about her experiences during her first six months in Nay Pyi Taw.
What were your experiences serving as a member of parliament (MP) this year?
I had observed the hluttaw sessions before I became an MP, and as far as I could tell most people in Myanmar were not interested in the hluttaw before the National League for Democracy (NLD) won seats in the by-election. They didn’t even pay attention to what the politicians in parliament were talking about, but after the NLD got in, their interest grew. This is because they elected NLD members to become MPs, and now they are waiting to see what we can do for them. But their expectations totally depend on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The people want to see change so they have very high expectations from her. This is what I’ve seen both before and after I became an MP.
I have heard that MPs talk to the voters about what they have heard and what is happening in the hluttaw after each session, but can you say that the MPs really listen to the concerns of the people and take them to the hluttaw?
MPs have great responsibilities from voters not only from their own constituencies but also from other areas. Now we have a lot of conflict around the country, which is why all the NLD MPs have a meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi after every hluttaw session to talk about current issues. Daw Suu encourages us to not only to spend time in the hluttaw, but also to get out and meet with the people we represent. She also told us that, if possible, we should not bring everything back to the hluttaw but we should try to solve these issues ourselves, especially complaints about crime and municipal-related issues. We also meet with officials from government offices after the hluttaw sessions to solve the people’s issues, if necessary. And we also meet with the people to explain what is happening in the hluttaw. We can solve most of their problems by working closely with officials, and avoid bringing the issues to the hluttaw. Having said that, in the coming year I will have some questions to bring to the hluttaw.
What kind of questions will you take to Nay Pyi Taw during the next session?
They will be related to legal affairs and transportation issues. But we will also be busy with budget issues in the next session because it is the budget season.
What are the weaknesses and strengths of being an MP?
For many years we were living under a dictatorship, so we were very far away from hluttaw politics. But I have noticed that even during this time of first steps towards democracy, the hluttaw sessions are becoming more and more active. This year we have been able to debate issues such as the farm land law and education reform, so we have been able to work for the people. By getting involved in the hluttaw, I feel that I am able to tell others what the people want. On the other hand, the sessions are very long and we MPs have a lot of things to do outside the hluttaw, so sometimes it’s hard to be patient. But the next session will be short and we will be able to get to the point of the discussions more quickly because the ministries and the MPs now work in better harmony with one another.
I noticed that Dr Myat Nyarna Soe, an ex-member of the National Democratic Force who switched to the NLD, was very active and asked many questions in previous sessions, but is now very silent. You also have asked fewer questions in the hluttaw recently. Why has this happened?
One of the reasons is that there are already a lot of questions and bills before the hluttaw, and even if we don’t raise the questions ourselves we are still involved in the debate sessions. There are also committees to solve specific issues in the hluttaws, so don’t need to ask all of our questions directly in each session.