Section 59(f) of the 2008 constitution, which stipulates the requirements to become president, should not be changed, several speakers at a public event organized by Myanmar National Network said.

The public event, held on February 2 at Bo Sein Hman Ground, Bahan township, Yangon, singled out the article from the charter, widely believed to prevent the National League for Democracy chairman, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from contending the presidency.

Article 59(f) bars anyone from the presidency whose parents, spouse, legitimate offspring or spouse of offspring are foreign citizens.

U Thiri Maung, chairman of Myanmar National Network, insisted that it was not in the national interest to amend the Article 59(f).

“I think we have the right to express our opinion. Not changing the article is not targeted directly at Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In the long run it’s better not to change the article,” U Thiri Maung said.

Also attending were U Nay Myo Wai, chairman of the Diversity and Peace Party, lawyer U Aye Paing, Dhammasekka U Maung Maung (chairman 2, Dhamma Network), Ko Han Myo Mon and Amyotha Hlutw representative Daw Khin Wine Kyi of the National Democratic Force.

Parliamentarian Daw Khin Wine Kyi said: “Politics should not serve one particular person, but all people. We must look ahead. Changing the constitution for the benefit of one person equals corruption.”

Ashin Mawana, a monk and third year student at Buddha University, Yangon, also supported not changing article 59(f). “I’m not biased against anyone,” he said. “Our country has a long way to go. We can’t afford to let one person influence policy. I don’t understand why some people only want to change this article. There are many articles which could benefit the development of our country, if they were to be changed.”

Lawyer and NLD law assistant U Ko Ni disagreed. “If 59 (f) is not amended, Daw Aung San Su Kyi cannot become president. This was intentionally done so. There is no such article in the 1947 and 1974 constitutions. The former constitutions only stated one must not be a beneficiary of a foreign country. The president is elected by the people. Article 59(f) blocks people from voting for the person they want to vote for. So, the article should be amended.”

Dhammasekka U Maung Maung, chairman 2 of the Dhamma Network added that article 59(f) is not targeted at anyone in particular. “The constitution is not biased. We must explain to the people they can choose by themselves. For nationalistic reasons I think the article should be kept as it is.”

South Okkalapa township Hluttaw representative U Aung Thein Linn invoked his Hluttaw vow of safe guarding the constitution. “I must keep my promise.”

In July 2013 a 109-member Joint Parliamentary Constitution Review Committee was set up, to seek opinions from the public and political parties on the constitution. Originally the committee was to report on the amendments it deemed necessary before December 31. Later the deadline was extended to January 31.

Both the USDA and the NLD offered their opinions during the process. The USDP recommended not to cancel the article, but to make some small changes instead. The NLD on the other hand submitted a report containing 168 suggested amendments, of which the scrapping of article 59(f) is one.

British minister of state for the Foreign Office Hugo Swire reiterated his support for constitutional changes, during his press conference at the British Council in Yangon on January 30. He said: “Opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is blocked from becoming president, even if her party wins the majority of the vote in the 2015 election. The citizens of a country have the right to choose by whom they want to be governed.”

Link: http://mizzima.com/mizzima-news/politics/item/10872-public-event-organised-to-prevent-changes-to-article-59-f