Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A motion in the Burmese Lower House to repeal the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, which is used to imprison democracy activists, has been overwhelmingly rejected by the majority opposition dominated by the Union Solidarity and Development Party.
Only 7 MPs supported the motion made by New Democracy Party MP Thein Nyunt. The motion was voted down by 220 USDP MPs; 99 military-appointed MPs; 16 MPs from the National Unity Party (NUP) and other smaller-party MPs. Forty-one MPs abstained.
Voting in favour on Monday were Dr. Than Win and Khaing Khing Maung Yee from the National Democratic Force; Nan Wah Nu from the Shan Nationalities Development Party; Thein Nyunt and Kyi Myint from the New Democracy Party, Zar Telem from the Chin National Party and Myint Than from the All Mon Region Democracy Party.
MPs who rose to speak against the motion were USDP members Than Oo from the Myawaddy constituency; Aung Kyaw Soe from the Natmauk constituency; Soe Paing from the Wuntho constituency; and Zaung Khaung from the Hsawlaw constituency.
In speaking against the motion, Thein Oo argued that the law should be in force because insurgency was still taking place, referring to recent fighting between the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and government troops.
USDP MP Zaung Khaung said the Emergency Provisions Act was essential to the country, citing recent fighting between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and government troops.
The late Prime Minister U Nu enacted the emergency act two years after Burma regained independence in 1948, to be used for suppression of the civil war. The law says that those who obstruct or delay the performance of duty by the armed forces or police force or those who intend or act to undermine the stability in the government can receive up to life in prison term or capital punishment.
“We are not in a state of emergency. So this law is irrelevant in the current time,” said Khaing Khin Maung Yee, who supported the motion.
According to the figures released by the exile-based Assistance Association of Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP-B), out of a total of 1,995 political prisoners 500 prisoners were charged and imprisoned under the Emergency Provisions Act.
According to parliamentary procedures, a motion must be seconded and moved by at least one MP for deliberation in the house.
In other Lower House business:
––USDP MP Soe Thar moved a motion to explore ways to help business enterprises which have been struggling as a result of the falling US dollar. MP Nyi Nyi seconded the motion and it will be brought up for deliberation at a later date.
––Former Minister of National Planning and Economic Development Soe Thar told MPs that there was an increase of import volume by 78 per cent in the 2010-11 fiscal year and there was a trade deficit of 796 million kyat (US$1.1 million), decreasing export values and volume of rice, pulses and beans, and fish in moving his motion.
––USDP MP Maung Maung Thein from the Kayan constituency made a motion to exempt income tax on interest earned by treasury bills issued by the government. The motion was seconded by MP Nan Wah Nu from the Kunhing constituency and the motion will be deliberated at a later date. House Speaker Thura Shwe Mahn urged the lawmakers to consult with the Finance and Revenue Ministry and Parliament Bills Committee regarding their motion.
The sessions of the lower and upper houses concluded at 3 p.m. There will be a joint session of Parliament on September 5.