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Speak up or write it down

Rangoon (Mizzima) – Shwe Mann, the speaker of the Burmese Lower House, has urged MPs to speak out for the people, and if they are afraid to speak out publicly then put it in writing.

Lower House speaker Shwe Mann speaks to the media at the  Rangoon Region Assembly on Wednesday, February 22, 2012. Photo: Mizzima
The speaker made his remarks during a meeting of the Law Affairs and Special Matters Study and Evaluation Commission at the Rangoon Region Assembly hall on Wednesday.

“People are still scared. People still fear the consequences of their words. Fear is a form of corruption, so I want to urge all MPs to speak out in written form if you are still scared and to avoid acts that could lead to corruption,” Shwe Mann said.

Shwe Mann, himself, spoke out boldly on February 7 in a joint session of Parliament calling for a pay raise for all government workers, in a effort to reverse the endemic corruption that pervades the government throughout the country.

Government Finance and Revenue Minister Hla Tun in a speech to Parliament on February 16 opposed Shwe Mann’s motion.

On Tuesday, Shwe Mann again told Parliament members: “Only projects which will be beneficial to the people should be continued [in order to] give a pay increase for the government staff by cutting government spending.”

He said on Wednesday that he would stick to his pay-increase proposal and not back down, which means that the Parliament will have to vote on his motion, according to parliamentary rules.

About 150 businessmen, academics, legislators from of Rangoon Region Assembly and up to 30 foreign and domestic media representatives attended his talk.

Shwe Mann said that Burma needed efficient and practical laws to revamp the outdated laws and regulations that prevent the implementation of a market economy in line with international standards.

“We learn that there are investors who want to invest in our country,” he said. “These potential investors have difficulties in doing business under the existing legal infrastructure. We learn that they lack trust and cannot conduct their businesses in our country. So we urgently need practical laws,” Thura Shwe Mann said.

He said that at the current pace of change it’s unlikely that amendments and new laws and regulations could be completed in the current five-year term of Parliament so the pace of change must be accelerated.  

He singled out the 1947 Provisional Imports and Exports Act that he said is not practical and must be amended urgently.

“If our country does not follow through and exercise a Parliamentary democracy and the market economy correctly and efficiently, our country and our people cannot catch up with other nations, and we will continually lag behind them,” he said.

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