Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Draft law seeks to update YCDC with elected officials

A draft update to the 2013 Yangon City Development Affairs Law could see nearly all members of the municipal authority elected, according to a draft submitted to the region parliament last week. But critics say other legislative updates are needed to ensure all residents over the age of 18 are given the right to vote in the future municipal elections.

The bill committee for the Yangon Region Hluttaw said its focus in redrafting the development affairs law was on reducing centralisation of city powers and reforming Yangon City Development Committee.

U Thein Myint, chair of the bill committee, told The Myanmar Times on October 14 that in the draft law the YCDC members are elected, rather than half being appointed by the city mayor.

“Centralisation directly opposes the democratic system of governance in our country. That’s why we drafted an amendment of this law,” he said.

According to the 2013 Yangon City Development Affairs Law, the municipal body is constituted of nine members: four elected and four directly appointed by the mayor, who serves as the committee’s ninth member.

YCDC’s eight elected and appointed members were removed from their seats in May after a change to by-laws governing the committee saw their terms truncated to coincide with the five-year term of the previous Union government, which ended on March 30.

Yangon Mayor U Maung Maung Soe appointed four interim members in June including a secretary position to take up the committee’s duties in the interim.

Former regional MP U Kyaw said that parliament should amend both the 2013 Yangon City Development Affairs Law and the election law to ensure that all adults can cast a ballot. Currently, voting is restricted to one adult person per household.

“The current law was drafted in a one-sided way. When I was in parliament we objected to it, but were not successful in amending it,” he said.

When The Myanmar Times interviewed Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein in April, he said that the National League for Democracy-backed government would amend the election law so that every city resident over the age of 18 is eligible, and that the mayor would handle the update before the next municipal election.

The 2014 Yangon municipal election was widely criticised for sidelining the majority of the city’s population. The first such poll in 50 years allowed 401,000 eligible voters to cast a ballot among the city’s population of 5.2 million.

The Yangon Region Hluttaw is scheduled to debate the draft revisions of the 2013 Yangon City Development Affairs Law on October 21.