Myanmar Ruling Party Says Constitutional Change Could Mean ‘Serious Danger’

Burma’s Ruling Party Says Constitutional Change Could Mean ‘Serious Danger’

 Union Solidarity and Development Party, National League for Democracy, constitution

Staff sell copies of Burma’s Constitution at the Lower House of Parliament in Naypyidaw in 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON — Burma’s ruling party says the state and its people will be in “serious danger and face consequences beyond expectation” if lawmakers scrap and rewrite the existing Constitution.

“People will suffer bad consequences if the 2008 Constitution is abolished and redrawn,” the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) said in a statement on Saturday.

The military-backed party did not elaborate on the warning. Party officials, including vice chairman Htay Oo, were not available for comment.

The USDP statement came one week after Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), said it would collaborate with ethnic parties to seek public opinion on the question of whether to amend or totally scrap and rewrite the Constitution.

The controversial charter was written by the former military regime and passed in a referendum in 2008 that was widely seen as a sham. It allows for amendments but does not include any statements about redrawing a new document.

Ethnic political parties and rebel groups that have reached ceasefire agreements with the central government have called in recent months for an opportunity to write a new Constitution, which they say would be faster and easier than separate amendments.

The NLD has urged for amendments to improve rule of law and encourage national reconciliation. Party spokesman Nyan Win said the NLD recognized the importance of considering whether the public preferred amendments or an entirely new charter, but added that personally he believed scrapping the current Constitution would be “dangerous.”

“There is no provision in the Constitution that allows us to have a new one,” he told The Irrawaddy. “It could lead to a confrontation with the military.”

The NLD considers the current Constitution undemocratic because it gives the military 25 percent of Parliamentary seats and makes NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi ineligible for president. Ethnic minority parties oppose a provision in the Constitution that require chief ministers in their regions to be appointed by the central government.

The Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) is among 12 ethnic political parties that the NLD has met with recently to discuss constitutional reform. The ALD favors rewriting a new charter, although the party’s president, Aye Tha Aung, said he was not completely opposed to amendments, assuming they were thorough enough.

“If you want to amend the Constitution, change the whole thing—don’t stick only to the point you want to fix” he told The Irrawaddy.

“Today everyone is talking about federalism, but there are provisions that block it. To stop civil war, ethnic people need a chance to work out their destiny as they choose in their native land. To cover all those points, as far as I’m concerned, it would be quite difficult [through amendments]. Having a new one would be easier and faster.”

The USDP has drawn criticism from some observers for issuing its warning over the weekend about negative consequences to constitutional reform.

“The announcement is politically inappropriate,” said Dr. Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst and commentator on Burmese political affairs. He said the government should allow the legislature to operate according to its motto: “The people’s voice is Parliament’s voice, and the people’s wish is Parliament’s wish.”

“The USDP shouldn’t lecture us,” he added. “It’s like they are threatening us. They have no right to do this, it’s very undemocratic.”

Last week, Parliament’s Constitution Review Joint Committee welcomed suggestions from a wide range of stakeholders to review or amend the 2008 Constitution.

Formed in July and chaired by the deputy speaker of the Union Parliament, the 109-member committee is made up of MPs from the Lower House and the Upper House, including military representatives. It set a Nov. 15 deadline to receive public opinion about Constitutional reform.

Meanwhile, the NLD is preparing to conduct a public opinion poll on the same question.

“We have seven groups to travel around the whole country next week for the poll,” Nyan Win said, adding that the groups would explain how the 2008 document was drafted in an undemocratic way. “We will send the people’s input to the Constitution Review Joint Committee by Nov. 15.”

Yan Myo Thein suggested that instead of having an opinion poll, the NLD should push Parliament to hold a referendum on the matter.

“Given the time the NLD has to conduct the poll, I wonder what percentage of the population they can cover,” he said. “The NLD should take a bolder step than an opinion poll. A referendum is the only answer if you want to achieve the people’s genuine desire.”

18 Responses to Burma’s Ruling Party Says Constitutional Change Could Mean ‘Serious Danger’

  1. Serious danger to what? We are sure that this constitution is good for USDP, NUP and soldiers in the House(Hlutdaw), but this Nargis constitution is no way near to be able to serve real Democratic Union of Myanmar. Current regime may never want to change or rewrite a new one because they still want to hang on to power for many years to come. They may make a threat to us but we do not fear. How long will they kidnap and rape our Union of Myanmar?

    • The USDP only needs to say “Booh!”, as the NLD ‘fights’ shy of any even seeming confrontation, committed unreservedly to non-violence no matter what. The latter and ASSK’s motto has to be “Beggars can’t be choosers “.

  2. Having fake gold is the same with having no gold. Having undemocratic constitution is the same with having dictatorship.

  3. Do they mean they will go back to military dictatorship if the constitution is rewritten? This is a threat. We the people have the right to express what we feel. They should know that this Nargis constitution was not designed for democracy. It was actually designed to keep themselves safe from prosecution. They talk about democracy but they walk on the same path they walked since 1962. No one is a threat to democracy but USDP/NUP.

  4. There is a popular Burmese proverb : Little grass can’t stand between (two) Buffalo Fights … Kywe Hna-gong Gya-ga Myeza MaKhan Naign

    Rakhine state is a test bed for Democracy in Burma. In deed it is a test bed for dirty games.
    There are a lot of opportunities in Rakhine State : Swe Gas in Kyaunk Pyu , Deep Sea port in Sittwe and recently, Titanium / Aluminium mining in Maungdaw/ Rathedaung.
    Rakhine state has been damn peaceful during 60 years of civil wars in Burma comparing other frontiers.
    Neither Stupid Rakhines or Idiot Bengalis( Rohingyas) hold any gun fights with Burmese military. Someone can recall the statistics about how many military died or injured in Rakhine state in the last 60 years! Both community became soft targets an eventually become loggerheads each others. Who created this? Why these things did not happen in NeWin’s era?
    Today both the Stupid Rakhines and the Idiot Bengalis( Rohingyas) paid the highest price for the Burmese democracy. While others are enjoying economic fruits of democratic honeymoon, majority of Rakhines in Rakhine state lost their income. Bengalis( Rohingyas) ended up in the camps similar to those of Warsaw during WWII. Even the donkey Burmese Muslims ( often called Kalar or Indian Muslims) areas in other part of Burma have also been terribly suffered as test beds.
    To the President Thein Sein, Parliament Chairman Shwe Mann, adviser, Zaw Htay, NLD chairman DASSK, 88 Students and Burma Think Thanks, please be mindful that Democracy cannot be achieved by dirty games.
    This 2008 Constitution was born out of an illegitimate affair with military and commercial xxx workers posing as representatives.
    2008 is definitely like an illegitimate child. No doubt about this. It is like a child born out of wedlock. This child carries genetically linked disease like Down ’s syndrome with low IQ.
    However, someone cannot kill a child because the child was born illegitimate or having low IQ.
    The country is running with that constitution now. If anyone trying to dismantle it, you are doing like opening up a Pandora ’s Box. The whole country will become another Yugoslavia of Southeast Asia. I have never been a USDP/ military supporter in my life or will never be, but I agree the headline of this article.

    During the time ahead, Burmese people will not remember to kill tiny Idiot Rohingya population anymore. Everyone knows that the genuine workable TRUST has yet to establish among major ethnic groups fighting with military almost 60 years. Railway minister Aung Min and Immigration Minister Khin Yi will know the best. If the mistrust exploded again along the negotiation during the process amending or rewriting 2008 constitution, they will be busy killing each other aging. I am trying not to be pessimistic but who can rule out this? As you know total Karen population in Irrawaddy division out numbers that of Karen State. Total Shan population in Mandalay division outnumbers Shan State. Burma itself is a Pandora’s’ box's_box .

    If Burmese politicians ( military/NLD/88/969 etc..) are patriotic enough, stop playing dirty games in Rakhine State which bring misery to Stupid Rakhines and Idiot Bengalis( Rohingyas). Instead of doing that, please work together to prevent the country falling into another cliff and ruining it into pieces!!!

  5. I guess ASSK hedged on the wrong bet…Teaming up with Shwe Mann in the hopes that the parliament speaker would actually help her to change the constitution…I hope people are starting to realize that she has very limited political astuteness. Everyone seems to be forgetting that the main concern should be “what’s next?”…if and when the constitution is changed and ASSK becomes president…everyone is in awe and no one is questioning how she is going to transform the country…Being the figurehead is just not enough….One needs to back it up with proper policies – implementation and execution!

    • If Suu Kyi becomes president, maybe you are our secretary of state. I know that I can be much better minister than the current idiot ministers who have no vision for us. They are still dreaming their lives of the past. Laundering, cheating and robbing were what they enjoyed too much in the past. So, if you believe Aung San Suu Kyi may not be able to implement what she has been saying, Burma has no bright future. Suu Kyi plus you and me are the bright future of Myanmar. This is what I strongly believe.

  6. I, for one, completely agree with Dr Yan Myo Thein.
    What is USDP to block the rewrite? Do they want to dictate the people’s will the way the junta did. Do they call themselves democratic, saying they paved this way for democracy?
    We all can see the danger as much as the USDP does.
    But can’t we wait for what the people will vote for in the first place? Can’t we be patient enough?
    That has been U Ne Win’s problem and subsequent mistakes, and all along half century of the military rule.
    Come on! Let us end this civil war that has been eating away our human and natural resources?
    Let us listen to the people’s voice! And obey!!!
    And the ethnic military mind set, I mean the Bamas as well as all other ethnic groups, will need to come to terms with the People’s will too. This needs to be agreed upon before the national referendum. Be careful about what is meant by the majority vote, whole-country-wise, not localized, if that comes. I am only pointing out that we need to see ahead of the result of the referendum, if it comes and which ever way it goes.
    Let us all be big-minded and gentlemanly!
    Let us all not bear any grudge and animosity among us!
    Let us all wish each other welll!
    Let us consider each other as human beings who want to be treated with kindness and generous consideration! Not differently!

  7. Yes, it is true- changing the existing constitution will be a serious danger- I agree. For whom? for the people?- NO for the country?- of course NOT. It is very very dagerious for USDP- Ali Baba and forty thieves. In fact, we don’t need to change the constitution right now. What we have to do is – to win landslide in the coming election. Then change the present dictatorial constitution by the support of the people.

    • Absolutely 100% right. We need REAL people’s parlement of different ethnics, religion with equal rights in the federal system. Enough of one ethnic majority rule. Then only we can have a real Union of Myanmar.
      Ethnic armies should turn into national guards of their state and financed by their own state governments. They should not be allowed to collect taxes. They should give their loyalty to their state government and Federal Union. One for all and All for one.

  8. It makes me laugh when I read this article. Simple question is danger to whom? Why is that dangerous to rewrite the constitution? I will make my argument from logical point. Almost all of the 2008 constitution do not serve Burmese people or it doesn’t fit with Democratic principle. So, why are we dragging to rewrite new constitution? Whether you are a USDP member or NLD member or 88 generation students or just ordinary Burmese citizen, remember this are you guys don’t want to solve this problems in your hands at this moment and push on just like 1962 generation and let next generation suffer and die at the hand of butchers or you guys stand up now so that your sons and daughters will have a good future right after this new constitution or “Social Contract is sign”. People should not be fear of it’s own military force which should protect country and citizens rather than taking hostage the whole country. French philosopher Rousseau wrote in is “Social Contract”. “Since no man has any natural authority over his fellows, and since force alone bestows no right, all legitimate authority among men must be based on covenants”.
    For a country, all legitimate authority among citizens must be based on fair and just constitution. If constitution does not represent the whole body of citizen, why is it dangerous for scrapping? It is dangerous to carry on without changing it. If Burmese military is thinking of taking power again by violence coup. I have more of Rousseau writing to share. Rousseau wrote the chapter “The Right of the Strongest”.
    “The strongest man is never strong enough to be master all the time, unless he transforms force into right and obedience into duty. Hence ‘the right of the strongest’-a ‘right’ that sounds like something intended ironically, but is actually laid down as a principle. But shall we never have this phrase explained? Force is a physical power, I do not see how its effects could produce morality. To yield to force is an act of necessity, not of will; it is at best an at of prudence. In what sense can it be a moral duty?
    Let us grant, for a moment, that this so-called right exists. I suggest it can only produce a tissue of bewildering nonsense; for once might is made to be right, cause and effect are reversed, and every force which overcome another force inherits the right which belonged to the vanquished. As soon as man can disobey with impunity, his disobedience becomes legitimate; and as the strongest is always right, the only problem is how to become the strongest. But what can be the validity of a right which parishes with the force on which it rests? If force compel obedience, there is no need to invoke a duty to obey, and force eases to compel obedience, there is no longer any obligation. Thus the word ‘right’ adds nothing to what is said by ‘force'; it is meaningless.
    ‘Obey those in power’. If this mean ‘yield to force’ the precept is sound, but superfluous; it will never, I suggest, be violated. All power comes from god, I agree, but so does every disease, and no one forbid us to summon a physician. I am held up by a robber at the edge of a wood, force compel me to hand over my purse. But if I could somehow contrive to keep the purse from him, would I still be oblige in conscience to surrender it? After all, the pistol in the robber’s hand is undoubtedly a POWER.
    Surely it must be admitted, then, that might does not make it right, and that the duty of obedience is owed only to legitimate powers.

  9. This is serious menace warning from USDP and NUP parties with backing of Military. We can take this as military coup if constitution is rewritten. Any law or constitution can and should be modified by legislative body (The Pyithu Hluttaw) as any law, it has to take into account of circumstances. We have many law from colonial periods which are out of date.
    Our country needs military which is loyal to the country and citizen, not the generals.
    We should modify instead of rewriting and starting from scratch and provoking the paranoid generals who are afraid of their conscience and to be put on trial. The guy is still behind the curtain. Let’s be realistic.
    We need truth commission like in South Africa so that we don’t do this errors again.
    This warning from USDP will let foreign companies investing in Myanmar to think twice now of the risk and Myanmars people living in foreign countries to ponder of returning to the motherland.
    They will let the country sink than losing their power. Means, “Me and my family first, the party second, then whatever left of the country. Other citizen, not sure if still exits !”.

  10. Maung Lu Aye ( Law )R.A.S.U 1976

    Burma’s Ruling Party USDP says the State & its People will be in Serious Danger & Face Consequences beyond Expectation if Lawmakers Scrap & Rewrite the Existing Nargis Constitution.
    Do USDP party Represent Over 60 millions Burmese Population ?
    Was 2008 Nargis Constitution really Approved by the Majority People ?
    Dr Yan Myo Thein Refer to its Motto “The People Voice is the Parliament’s Voice and the People’s Wish is the Parliament’s Wish “.
    In England Oliver Cromwell Era, The Country was governed by Parliament. The Powerful King Charles tried his Kingdom in Evil Ways by asking Forces from One Foreign Country to Crush Oliver & The Parliament. Finally,King Charles was accused of his Betrayal to his Country and was Executed by Parliament.
    Our Country had 3 Constitution so far after the Independence in 1948. Except 1947 Constitution, the Other 1974 & 2008 Nargis Constitution were Never Ever approved by the Majority People ( When you have Chance to Read Minn Din ” Thet Khaing” there were a lot of Cheating in countless Places regarding the White & Black Ballot Boxes. Afterall,most of the Votes putting into the Black Ballot boxes were transfer to White Boxes. Even in 74, my Defied Vote was Transfer to White. That’s Means the BSPP Cheated the Majority People, approved the Constitution). Actually Late Ne Win’s BSPP Cheated very badly by Betraying his People. Now,Late Than Shwe,So sorry ,Than Shwe did the Same thing like his First Aphaygyi. Because these Military Personnel Such as Sein Lwin, Saw Maung, Khin Nyunt ,Spectacle Tin Oo,Than Shwe & Thein Sein are all ” Clones/Another Ne Win “of Ne Win.
    The Only Solution is to Ask the 60 Millions People for their Approval of the Constitution. A Referendum is the Only Answer if you want to achieve People’s Genuine Desire ,which Exellent Legal Opinion given by Dr Yan Myo Thein.
    There is Nothing to Do with the USDP’s Statement or Opinion. They don’t Represent Majority People and 74 & 2008 Nargis Constitution was Never,Ever Approved by the Peace loving People.

  11. Hey, do not insult Ali Baba. he didn’t steal form the people. In fact he shared his fortune with others.

  12. Constitution should be always just constitution, without just constituion, democratic system can not progress for people. So, I would like to advocate just consitution for Burma People.
    -Advocate from Nepal

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