Myanmar MPs wear face masks on a break while abiding by social distancing rules, in place to halt the spread of the coronavirus, at the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw parliament building in Naypyidaw on May 29. (Photo: Thet Aung/AFP)
Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD)-dominated parliament has voted down the impeachment motion of the house speaker filed by the military and its linked opposition lawmakers. Parliament’s vice-chair Tun Tun Hein announced after the vote on June 1 that the number of votes in favor of the motion was 132, less than the two-thirds majority of the total number of sworn-in members. In a secret ballot, 243 opposed the motion and five abstained. The motion needed 254 votes to pass. “I therefore declare this motion failed and parliament will not take action as it [the motion] did not receive the necessary support according to the parliament’s by-law,” Tun Tun Hein told MPs in a lower house session. T Khun Myat will remain in the position and resume his duties in the upcoming parliamentary sessions.
The urgent proposal was submitted on May 28 signed by 110 MPs from the USDP and the military bloc. The impeachment motion claimed T Khun Myat violated the constitution by allowing the NLD to submit an urgent motion to set up the constitution amendment committee, but he blocked proposals submitted jointly by USDP and military MPs, including calling on the military-dominated National Defense and Security Council to discuss Covid-19 containment measures. It was the first attempt in a decade that lawmakers have sought to impeach a speaker in a Southeast Asian nation. Tensions arose between the USDP, military MPs and the speaker over the charter change push by the NLD. T Khun Myat has interrupted protests by opposition MPs and warned them about shouting in parliament. The NLD’s year-long push for charter change, however, ended in failure after the USDP and military bloc rejected almost all of their amendment proposals, except a handful of cosmetic changes. Any changes to the charter require the support of 75 percent of lawmakers, giving the Tatmadaw (military) an effective veto. On March 22, 2018, T Khun Myat was elected speaker of the lower house, replacing Win Myint who resigned to take the president’s role. The 70-year-old Baptist became an independent lawmaker after being sacked from the military-linked USDP in 2017. The Kachin politician has a close relationship with the ruling NLD due to his good ties with Shwe Mann, a former lower house speaker who has been close to state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi since the 2012 by-elections. T Khun Myat contested and won the Kutkai township constituency for a seat in the lower house in both the 2010 and 2015 elections. He was involved in the commission drafting the constitution in 2007 and the commission for the constitutional referendum in 2008.
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