Myanmar Parliament Speaker Says Article 59 Is Not His Party’s Priority
BURMA

Shwe Mann: Article 59 Not Our Only Priority

Shwe Mann, Aung San Suu Kyi, Union Solidarity and Development Party, Naypyidaw, Parliament, Burma, Myanmar, constitution, president, amendments, politics

Opposition leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi, left, sits next to Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann during lunch at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Naypyidaw on June 7, 2013. (Photo: Simon Roughneen / The Irrawaddy)

NAYPYIDAW — Shwe Mann, the Union Parliament speaker and chairman of Burma’s ruling party, says he would support an Aung San Suu Kyi presidency, but that changing the constitutional article currently blocking her from the position is not his only priority for amendments.

Speaking on Thursday in Naypyidaw, Shwe Mann, who has also expressed ambitions to be Burma’s next president in 2015, said his Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was not specifically focused on changing Article 59 (F).

“I would personally be glad if Ama Gyi becomes president,” he told reporters at the Lower House of Parliament, referring to Suu Kyi. Ama Gyi means elder sister in Burmese. “I will not block it, and I would even welcome it by cooperating with her. I will do whatever I can for the good of the country—however I can help at this time. But I am not looking only to amend Article 59 of the Constitution.”

It was the first time Shwe Mann has directly addressed the issue of amending Article 59. The article prohibits anyone from becoming president if their family members are foreign nationals, and Suu Kyi’s two sons hold British citizenship.

Shwe Mann has developed a close relationship with Suu Kyi since she was elected to Parliament in 2012, and some Burmese political observers say they believe he would support her if she were able to become president.

Late last month his USDP party announced that it had proposed changes to over 50 points in the Constitution, including Article 59. Among the proposals was a recommendation to allow a presidential candidate to take office if his or her children and spouse adopted Burmese citizenship.

It is not possible to have dual citizenship in Burma, so Suu Kyi’s sons would need to renounce their British citizenship.

Suu Kyi said she would allow her sons, both adults, to make their own decision. “Since they turned 21 years old I have not had the right to decide for them,” she said in an earlier interview with Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service. “It would not be up to the standards of democracy if there was a law to decide for them.”

Parliament’s 109-member Constitutional Review Joint Committee is accepting proposals for constitutional changes and is expected to issue its own recommendations later this month.

Asked by The Irrawaddy how the government might respond if Suu Kyi were to boycott the 2015 election, as she has threatened to do in the event that her party’s proposed amendments are not adopted, Shwe Mann said it was too early to say.

Suu Kyi first raised the possibility of a boycott while speaking to thousands of supporters at a National League for Democracy (NLD) rally in Pegu Division in December. Adopting a harder line on constitutional reform, she warned that those taking part in the election under the current military-drafted charter could see their reputations damaged. “Those who have dignity should not join the 2015 elections unless there is an amendment to the Constitution,” she said. “There will be no fair election with the current Constitution.”

The opposition leader is currently touring the country and holding rallies to drum up support for her campaign to have the 2008 Constitution amended. In Chin State, she said she would wait to see how far constitutional changes went before making a decision about participation in the election.


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13 Responses to Shwe Mann: Article 59 Not Our Only Priority

  1. Who in the right frame of mind would believe the current regime give up their cushy positions that made them billionaires?

    Everyone knows for sure they could not manage the country because the results are overwhelmingly negative. I love my country but it is so disheartening to see the state of affairs i.e. people getting poorer and afflicted with all kinds of diseases. Only a few handfuls are unbelievably rich but the majority is reeling from the effects of poverty. I wonder whether the current regime is aware of the health issues facing the country. I guess not. It has reached a crisis situation but knowingly or unknowingly, no one is addressing this very important issue.

    I think it is high time we support the leader who can lead the country efficiently and effectively.

  2. Shwe Mann will be remembered as our national hero if he has the courage and fix the undemocratic 2008 Nargis constitution into a democratic constitution. Constitution is the very cornerstone for a country. So, people’s eyes are on Shwe Mann what he will do in amending the unacceptable Nargis constitution.

  3. We will see what he will push and achieve in amending the constitution. We the people are losing our patience. The need to amend the constitution is not just for Aung San Suu Kyi but it is for all of us and for the Union of Myanmar as a whole. Promising Democracy with undemocratic constitution is no less than insult to all of us. Talk is always cheap. We want to see from Shwe Mann that he is a real man, not a puppet like Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing. Puppet or Robot will not lead our life.

  4. I don’t support to change 59(F). It is a must in any drafted constitution of Myanmar forever.

    Suu Kyi had contested in 2012 under the same constitution. Why she didn’t stick her 2 decades long dogma at that time. She has been wasting time for this Presidency without doing enough for the country where she could have ample opportunity for the suffering of people.

    She is also using monks to attract more people to her side. Religion in Myanmar is so spoiled and corrupted by dragging the monks into politics and social affairs both by the government and herself.

    Monks, the organisation of Sangha has their own rules to abide laid down by the Buddha. Not all plausible and admirable for mundane world are not appropriate or not allowed by their principles, since the religion’s devotion is to free itself first. The only way to get that freedom or enlightenment is intensive meditation most of their time. Now, most of the monks, including famous monks, do not practise meditation. They are busy acquiring laptops, mobile phones, digital cameras, video cameras, cars etc. You can see many monks now sit in the coffee shops and in restaurants!!

    Both the government authority and Suu should read vinaya and other sermons of the Buddha to get slight hint of why they should not drag the monks into politics. Alas, U Ne Win, the most despised person in recent history of our country was a lot better then present leaders of our country in that particular respect.

    • U Ottama did not campaign and die for his own gain. Monks always contributed tremendous things in our history for the well being of the citizens. Suu Kyi has been doing the same cause. Her campaign for amending the constitution and her campaign for [residency are just for the benefit of the country and for all of us. What kind of mentality U Nyunt Shwe has in his mind is questionable.

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

    Dear Nyi Lay Shwe Mann- DASSK as Ama gyi for you , You should be my Nyi Lay. It doesn’t matter Whether you were Ex- General or Billionaire Businessman, EveryOne must die, Young or Old . Any way, Regarding to your Statements, you really honor & Sympathized the Daughter of the Late Independence Hero & the Founder of the Burma’s Army Gen Aung San.
    Be Nice. Try to avoid the BrainWashed of the Army Mentality that you can supersede or Easily overcome the Opposition/ NLD or the People . This Time is Life & Death very Important. If your Attitudes are not Sincere , Cunning , Crooked or whatever you would pay the Price .
    And you said You & USDP not specifically focus on changing Article 59 (F). And Article 59 (F) is One of the Very Important Article for Burmese People . I thought, you Guys are trying to Supersede or Overcome NLD’s DASSK to become President. USDP is handling One with the Water/Peace and the Other hand with Fire /No Peace. Don’t try to prolong the Era of Dictatorship .
    As An Opposition Leader DASSK was touring Burma and holding rallies to drum up support for her campaign to have the 2008 Constitution amended . As her growing age , Ama Gyi /DASSK was trying her best for National Reconciliation , very busy, tired . Don’t be hypocrites ! Try very Nice to her and the Suffering Burmese People in order to achieve the Genuine Democracy . Make No Mistakes .

  6. Daw Su cannot be the president of Myanmar.
    Because she wants to be the president of Burma.

  7. Shwe Mann is just another one of a long line of military goons who mismanaged Burma for the 50 years. He is a total waste of space and would be consigned to the dustbin of history in a free and fair election.

  8. Daw Suu should not forget her father’s words that, “Your enemy is the one nearest to you!”. In the Burmese saying there is such a thing as ‘luyone that-the’. The former South Korean dictator was killed by none other than his own ‘security chief’. Why would you believe the words of someone with the ambition of becoming President himself when he said that he supported the ‘Ahmagyi’ in her quest to become one. If he were such a generous person he wouldn’t have been in the team that have prolonged the poverty and misery of the people both mainstream Bamas and the ethnic minorities while they enriched themselves with their crime in partners, the Chinese? If they all who wore trousers I rather trust the Chinese women than the Burmese military. They are pathologic liars! How could they not be otherwise when in the very psyche of the Burmese is ‘Mutha mapar linga-machaw’.

  9. Given the track records of Burmese military guys. they never match their acts with words. We are not sure it is a genuine words of Mr. Shwe Mann. Is it really a ploy masterminded by Gen. Than Shwe? WE all knew that The senior General is deploying the players to confused the people. But it is now in 21st century. You can not dupe the people anymore. If the USDP really want to dump the 2008 illegal constitution, They do not need to wait for top order to implement it. The time is running out for 2015 election.
    Amay Su is trying her very best to replace the illegal constitution with the people`s hand-written laws. She could have chosen to live a peaceful pleasant life in England. She love her people the same extent as her late father General Aung San He would be very happy seeing her daughter carrying out the hard works for people. She does not want to be a president if Burma is in complete democracy. Please do not confuse the fact. We need Daw Aung San Su Kyi the same as she need us now. We all need to support her to become a President of Burma so that she can do her most for the people of Burma. The poverty alleviation is the utmost important for Burma.

  10. I support U Shwe Min his standing on country Constitution changing and it’s very important to change ridiculous country Constitution which was commission and written under guideline by former dictator Than Shwe for to protect him and his family from future prosecution for abusing power, crimes against humanity and other criminals.

    U Shwe MIn needs too watch out his back. Than Shwe will be thinking U Shwe Min was crossing red line Last year, Gen Min Aung Hlaing addressing to his Military officers is not coincident and it’s warning directly to U Shwe MIn.

    Than Shwe and his hit-men is watching his every move from now on.

    Than Shwe is ruthless and cruelest dictator ever had in since 1962 in Burma.

  11. I support U Shwe Min his standing on country Constitution changing and it’s very important to change ridiculous country Constitution which was commission and written under guideline by former dictator Than Shwe for to protect him and his family from future prosecution for abusing power, crimes against humanity and other criminals.

    U Shwe MIn needs too watch out his back. Than Shwe will be thinking U Shwe Min was crossing red line Last year, Gen Min Aung Hlaing addressing to his Military officers is not coincident and it’s warning directly to U Shwe MIn.

    Than Shwe and his hit-men is watching his every move from now on.

    Than Shwe is ruthless and cruelest dictator ever had in since 1962 in Burma.

    Than Shwe and his group is watching U Thein Sein and U Shwe Min move. If they put wrong step on wrong side at wrong time and then they will face same fate like Khin Nyunt.

    Gen. Min Aung Hlaing standing firm behind his boss Than Shwe is predictable for fate of U Shwe Min.

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