Friday, August 18, 2017

President’s statement gets support from lawmakers

The president’s September 29 statement putting the Myitsone dam on hold for at least five years found favour not only with the public but also Pyithu Hluttaw representatives.

After Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann read President U Thein Sein’s statement on September 30, representatives broke out into applause and U Thein Swe of Ann constituency immediately submitted a motion expressing support for its contents. His proposal was unanimously approved by lawmakers – not a single representative voted against it.

Given the short notice of the president’s statement, the proposal had not been included on the hluttaw’s agenda but the speaker exercised his right to allow it to enter without prior vetting.

“I would like to propose the motion that I warmly welcome and second the items in the formal message sent by the president via the Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw this morning,” said U Thein Swe, a member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party and former minister for transport.

He said he “especially” welcomed the news that the Myitsone dam project would be halted. “I feel that the decision to build other hydropower projects that are found to not be dangerous after careful study shows the government is prioritising the public’s desire. All the public, including hluttaw representatives, will welcome the decision.

“The government is helping Myanmar citizens who are living abroad for various reasons to come back to Myanmar [and this] is highly conducive to national unity. The message that the government will release prisoners using its mandate reflects the government’s proper regard for the desire of the public, hluttaw representatives and the hluttaw. So the hluttaw welcomes and seconds [the statement],” U Thein Swe said.

Daw Daui Bu, representative of Ingyanyang, which is close to Myitsone, said: “Much of the area to be flooded by the dam belongs to my constituency. Today is a blissful day for our Kachin State and all Myanmar people who love the Ayeyarwady River. I readily second the motion by U Thein Swe from Ann constituency on behalf of the whole country.”

Similarly, U Thein Nyunt from Thingangyun said he “readily” seconded the motion.

“The growing concerns about the Ayeyarwady River have been brought to an end and the possibility of this glorious river disappearing has been prevented,” he said.

U Thein Nyunt also praised other sections of the president’s message, particularly his promise that the “release of political prisoners will occur under the constitution”.

“Both the Myitsone dam [suspension] and release of prisoners will contribute to national reconciliation. What is still fresh in my memory is that I was released from Mawlamyine prison on October 14, 1967 – the day before Thadingyut. I believe that the president’s formal message hints that the prisoners will have a peaceful reunion with their families by Thadingyut,” he said. “The president’s formal message bodes well for the future image of our country so I second it sincerely.”

Following the discussion, Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann declared U Thein Swe’s motion approved and called for it to be officially recorded.

– Translated by Thit Lwin