” We have enacted the Settlement of Labour Disputes Law back in the 12th regular session, and we are working on the related bylaw.”
- U Kyaw Myint, MP
The following is an interview with two members of the Pyithu Hluttaw Farmers and Labour Affairs Committee; Chairman U Kyaw Myint, MP for Taikkyi constituency, and Secretary U Thein Tun, MP for Kyaunggon constituency; and the work their committee has been putting in to make the economy better while raising the livelihoods of farmers and workers. The committee has been renewed thrice and consists of 20 Hluttaw representatives.
U Kyaw Myint
Q: Could you explain the committee’s structure first?
A: The committee was first formed as the Farmers, Labour and Youth Affairs Committee with Notification No. (21/2016) on 17 February, 2016 and was reorganized into the Farmers and Labour Affairs Committee on 7 March of the same year with Notification No. (38/2016). We have 18 permanent committee members and two Tatmadaw Hluttaw representatives as observers.
Q: Can you tell us how your committee handles farmers and labour affairs?
A: The Hluttaw designated us with the tasks of scrutinizing labour-related laws, amending and revising where necessary and suggesting continued enactment of relevant laws. But since the committee also deals with the affairs of farmers, we coordinate with the Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Livelihood Development Committee (ALRLDC) and the laws they scrutinize as well.
We also collaborate with the Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Committee and the ALRLDC to amend laws related to farmers. We held 61 meetings in the Second Hluttaw meeting of which 36 are coordination meetings and 25 are budget meetings.
Q: What’s the committee status on responding to complaint letters from the general public?
A: We have received a total of 9,522 complaint letters from the public. Committee members have to review and comment on the letters in line with State policies and then send to relevant departments and organizations. We currently have archived 7,568 letters sent to government ministries and organizations. We are in the process of reviewing the remaining 1,954 letters. We have also submitted our annual performance review to the Hluttaw.
Q: Please tell us about the committee’s efforts in amending and enacting laws.
A: In September this year, we drafted the first bill to amend the 2012 Farmland Law and will submit it to the President. When the President’s Office sends if back with remarks, we will submit it at the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw where the Joint Bill Committee will scrutinize it further.
We have also enacted a new land confiscation law and amended the Protection of Farmer Rights and Enhancement of Their Benefits Law a second time. We have also amended the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Law. It was done during the Second Pyithu Hluttaw. These laws are indispensable for farmers, and that is why we are updating them.
Our committee has to scrutinize 25 labour-related laws. We have faced labour affairs like the Innwa Tailor case and the Singapore case. Singapore has regulations related to domestic workers, but we don’t have it here in Myanmar. That’s why labour organizations are petitioning to the Hluttaw to legislate a domestic worker law and we are working on drafting it. We have to study similar laws from other countries to implement it ourselves. We will make it relevant to our nation.
Many Myanmar citizens are going through both legal and illegal channels to work as domestic workers in foreign countries. How will we protect people working like this? Those going through legal channels have contracts, but those who have gone through illegal channels need assistance in case something happens.
Right now, we have invited experts from related fields to assist us in drafting the domestic worker law. We expect to be ready to submit the draft to the Hluttaw in the coming 14th regular meeting. We have enacted The Settlement of Labour Disputes Law back in the 12th regular session, and we are working on the related bylaw.
Q: Can you also explain the budget reviews you perform on the ministries?
A: You can consider our Hluttaw affairs committees as the smaller parliaments. We provide checks and balances on the executive pillar. The ministers from that pillar have to submit their budget proposals to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw and receive approval. Committees like ours have to review and analyse their proposals. Our particular committee reviews the budget proposals of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.
When we scrutinize like this, the Pyithu and Amyotha Hluttaws form a joint review committee for that purpose. We prioritize financing for ongoing processes when we review the budget. We also have to approve emergency projects related to protecting or preventing the nation from natural disasters. Then we review projects for national development. We are exact in ensuring the national treasury is not misused.
U Thein Tun
Q: Can you tell us the tasks and duties of the committee?
A: We have eight duties. The first is assisting the development of farmers and workers. Second is protecting the rights of farmers. Third is ensuring agricultural products and crops garner appropriate prices. Fourth is to protect the right of all workers. Fifth, is minimizing unemployment among the public. Sixth is reviewing the existing laws of government departments across the nation and making revisions, amendments, or annulments where necessary. Seventh is monitoring the bylaws, rules, regulations and directives issued by government departments and organizations and checking to ensure they do not conflict with existing laws or those enacted by the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. And the eighth duty is to review all the letters sent by the public and forward it to the Speaker of the Hluttaw so that he may read it at the Hluttaw meeting.
Q: Can you tell us some of the responses or actions you have taken related to the letters received from the general public?
A: The Hluttaw is mainly responsible with legislation. But since our committee deals with farmers and workers’ affairs, we have to review letters related to the two. I have been a member of this committee since the First Hluttaw period and we handled some 30,000 complaints then. In the Second Hluttaw period we have received about 10,000 complaints as well. Among the 21 Hluttaw committees, we are the committee receiving the most letters.
We provide our findings, analysis, suggestions and remarks on each of the letters and work to resolve the issues they entail. Then we forward them to the Central Committee for Reviewing Confiscated Farmlands and Other Lands headed by the Vice President. We have sent 3,800 letters from the ten thousand mentioned earlier.
Some of the complaint letters are not valid, and we archive them with remarks. There are about 3,000 of them. We have about 2,000 letters left to review. When we’re not participating in the Hluttaw meetings, all of the committee members devote their time to address the letters sent by the general public.
Translated by Pen Dali