Burma parliament votes against forming Ministry of Ethnic Affairs

Burma’s parliament, controlled by the military backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, voted against a proposal to form a Ministry to administrate ethnic affairs at a regional level has dismayed ethnic MPs.

A proposal to form a Ministry of Ethnic Affair at the union level that was proposed by U Kyaw Din (a) U Htay Reh of Kayah [Karenni] State Constituency No.2 was voted in the Parliament but fail to get approval as there were more MPs voted against the proposal.

According to sources from Member of Parliament, the proposal ended as a recorded file.

U Soe Maung, Union Minister of President’s Office spoke in the National Parliamentary Assembly held on the 4th of March said that the proposal to form a Ministry of Ethnic Affairs was voted against due to national budget restrictions and that it was not necessary.

Speaking at the National Parliamentary Assembly, U Soe Maung said.

“We are fulfilling the needs of ethnic groups and overseeing the economy development based on the country’s economic situation. We don’t need to form a Ministry of Ethnic Affairs and we will keep the proposal on the record.”

U Zaw Aye Maung , a Rakhine Ethnic Affairs Minister of Rangoon regional, told Karen News that need to form Ministry of Ethnic Affairs is not just needed at the union level but also needed at the regional level. According to the constitution, in order to implement the preservation of ethnic literature and cultural, it must be carried out through a ministry. The Minister also said that Parliament by failing to approve the proposal was the same as a violation of “our three main national causes that are – ‘Integration of the Union’, ‘Unity Among the Union Races’ and ‘Perpetuation of Sovereignty.’”

Speaking to Karen News, U Zaw Aye Maung said.

“Now we haven’t reached peace, because we don’t have unity [in the country]. To achieve unity, the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs would be needed to form at the union level as well as at a Regional level. Instead of just speaking about ethnic unity in meetings, in the press or in the Parliament, we need to start the actual work now.”

U Manar Nai from, Chin State Constituency 10 spoke to Karen News about the issue.

“In the previous political era, I had learned that it was the responsibility of ethnic groups to elect the President and there were Ministers of Ethnic Affairs for Regional and State level. So, based on this idea, we thought that ethnic affairs would be taken seriously if we have the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs at the union level.”

U Saw Mya Win, MP of the Karen State Constituency 10 was reported in a the government run newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar as saying that as the ethnic affair issues is a very sensitive issue, it should be handled with lots of consideration and without any mistakes, only then can unity among ethnics be built.

The proposal to form a Ministry of Ethnic Affairs was discussed and submitted by 16 Members of Parliament from the House of Nationalities or ‘Amyotha Hluttaw’ – the upper house of the parliament that the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party and Army representatives controls 180 out of 224 seats.

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