Parliament


Aung San Suu Kyi has joined a chorus of local critics to pan the government’s decision to retain Podesta Group in an effort to overhaul its image, as a senior member of President Thein Sein’s retinue admitted that the lobbying firm has been charged with ending United States sanctions against Burma.
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The formation of the newly established Women’s Party has still not been approved by the Union Election Commission (UEC), its leaders say, adding that they have been harassed and interrogated by security forces since they made their initial application last year.
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The Ministry of Cooperatives will begin distributing microloans using US$300 million borrowed from China ahead of the monsoon cultivation season, a senior official says.
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This week, several media outlets reported that Myanmar had hired the Podesta Group, a powerful US lobbying firm, to represent its interests in Washington. (more…)

The bloodless shift to democratization has been the greatest accomplishment of Myanmar’s 4-year transition from military to civilian rule, Myanmar President Thein Sein told the Mainichi Shimbun in an exclusive April 9 interview.
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Burma’s Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday approved amendments to the National Education Law, which will be resubmitted to the Upper House with changes that activists view as regressive.
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Education reform advocates on Wednesday denounced the current draft of an amended education law, passed by Burma’s Upper House of Parliament last week, claiming that it deviated from a version agreed upon by stakeholders.
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A draft law banning violence against women is nearing completion – and could be a rival to four bills promoted by hard-line Buddhist nationalists that international human rights groups have deemed discriminatory and politically motivated. (more…)

Myanmar’s upper house of parliament began discussions on March 24 on amendments to the controversial education law, according to Radio Free Asia on March 24.
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Parliamentarians have ordered the government to submit a more detailed proposal for civil servant salary increases by today if it wants them to be included in this year’s budget bill.
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On March 20, the deputy minister for finance discussed the government’s proposal to increase salaries in parliament. He revealed that the government’s annual expense on the salaries of 1.4 million civilian and defense service personnel was almost K2.4 trillion (US$2.3 billion) in 2014-15. The deputy minister released this information in response to proposals for a salary increase for all government employees in the new fiscal year, which begins on April 1.
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Ethnic lawmakers have drawn up a report containing suggestions for constitutional amendment as sexpartite talks are slated to recommence. Articles 59(f) and 436 are amongst those that the MPs proposed amending.
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Derek Mitchell, US ambassador to Myanmar, told the Myanmar Eleven at a press conference at the US Embassy in Yangon that America was keeping a close watch on efforts to change the 2008 Constitution. (more…)

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Parliament has announced that the national referendum on amending the 2008 constitution will take place in May. The bill proposing the referendum was submitted to parliament in November 2014 and was passed this February.
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Opposition party members have postponed their planned visit to the People’s Republic of China, citing their tight schedule as the reason for the postponement, party spokesperson Nyan Win confirmed on Tuesday. (more…)

The All Mon Regions Democracy Party (AMDP) officially announced they won’t merge with the Mon Democracy Party (MDP). The party will keep their name when contesting the 2015 elections in accordance with constitutional rules and policies. They will also continue coordination with related organizations.
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With its economy opening up after decades of isolation, the reformist government in Myanmar is trying to make the country’s presence felt on the global information-technology (IT) map. The Southeast Asian nation is learnt to have roped in tech major Infosys to devise a strategy on using IT to improve governance efficiency. This would focus on grooming the local eco-system.
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Despite calls to increase spending on health and education, Burma’s government is facing a budget deficit and does not plan to substantially boost its allocation of funds for either sector in the next fiscal year.
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Civil servants and students in Chin State were instructed by regional authorities not to show public support or welcome Aung San Suu Kyi during this week’s tour of the remote western Burma state, according to a National League for Democracy (NLD) party official.
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Myanmar parliament speaker U Shwe Mann has called for thoughtful review of the 2008-state constitution, saying that the amendment should not harm the current stability, peace making process and democratic transition, state media reported Friday.
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