Pyithu Hluttaw rejects motion to replace foreigners on Rakhine State Advisory Commission

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A proposal by a member of parliament to reform the Rakhine State Advisory Commission only with local experts, suggesting that the involvement of three foreigners in the commission could cause the internal issue to become an international issue, was rejected by vote 148 to 50 at the parliament yesterday.
A total of 34 Pyithu Hluttaw representatives debated the proposal submitted by U Aung Kyaw Zan of Pauktaw Constituency and Deputy Minister for State Counsellor’s Office U Khin Maung Tin responded to the parliamentary discussions on the proposal.
In her opposition to the inclusion of foreigners on the Advisory Commission, Daw Khin Saw Wai of Yathedaung Constituency called on the government to take Rakhine people’s concerns and objections into account, saying that no foreign intervention should be allowed because the Rakhine issue is an internal affair.
“Despite the commission’s sound objectives to give advice on Rakhine State, this would be impossible without achieving the rule of law,” said the Yathedaung representative, adding that the onus is on the government to ensure the rule of law.
She pointed out that if priority is given to human rights with no focus on sovereignty, the situation will allow foreigners to intervene in the problem of undesirable people entering Rakhine region illegally.
The commission includes three foreigners: former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, the commission’s chairman; Ghassan Salame, a former Lebanese Minister of Culture; and Laetitia van den Assum, the special adviser to UNAIDS and the former Netherlands ambassador to the UK.
In his discussion, U Chin Pe Lin of Mansi Constituency expressed his support for the formation of the Advisory Commission with eminent, highly experienced and well-respected international and national persons.
“It is obvious that the Rakhine issue is not described as an internal affair from the international point of view,” said the Mansi representative, adding that now is the time to clear international criticism through transparency.
The commission’s recommendations will be available to the public through the State Counsellor and the government, said the lawmaker.
Col Khin Maung Tun, Defense Services personnel Hluttaw representative, expressed his concerns over the urgent formation of the Advisory Commission on the critical issue, saying that there will be effects of the commission on Rakhine region as well as others.
He suggested that the foreigner-led commission should be put under the management of the government and the ministry concerned should seek suggestions from Pyidaungsu Hluttaw and the people through the government.
He went to say that Rakhine issue is a matter that can be solved by local experts focusing on peace and stability, national unity and development, not a matter that needs technical assistance.
He stressed the need to place emphasis on the issue in order not to be criminals in the country’s history as only the people will suffer any consequences of inclusion of foreigners on the commission.
Next, Deputy Minister U Khin Maung Tin elaborated on the establishment of the Advisory Commission, rejecting the perception that foreigner inclusion on the commission can create an internal issue into an international matter. He called for rejection of the proposal, saying that the Advisory Commission formed with international and national persons of eminence on a matter that has been created as an international issue since more than 10 years ago was established with the aim of safeguarding the national security and interest.

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