President U Htin Kyaw welcomes Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the dinner reception on 30 March 2016. Photo: Reuters
President U Htin Kyaw welcomes Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the dinner reception on 30 March 2016. Photo: Reuters

President signs State Counsellor Bill into law
PRESIDENT U Htin Kyaw signed the State Counsellor Bill into the law, creating the post of the State Counsellor for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the new cabinet.
The bill was passed by the Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House) on 1April and by the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) on 5 April.
The bill was sent to the President without a vote in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Union Parliament) as it was approved by votes in both houses.
During the debates in each house of parliament, military representatives opposed the bill, claiming it violated the separation of powers as outlined in the constitution. They also said if the State Counsellor Bill were in line with the constitution, they would support it.
Military MP Brig-Gen Maung Maung told reporters after the bill was passed by the Lower House that the passage of the bill constitutes ‘democratic bullying’ by the majority.
“The bill was drawn up with the aim of ensuring a multi-party democratic system, a market economic system, a federal Union, peace and development in the Union,” said U Tun Tun Hein, chairman of the Pyithu Hluttaw Bill Committee, in his presentation of the committee’s report, calling for parliamentary approval of the bill.
The bill includes five chapters and eight articles. The bill, reviewed by The Global New Light of Myanmar, guarantees Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s right to contact government ministries, departments, organisations, associations and individuals and makes her accountable to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.
The term of the office for the State Counsellor is equal to the term of the president “who has taken office for the term of the current second parliament”, according to the bill.
Aside from the opposition presented by the military MPs, the bill has also drawn criticism by others who claim the NLD government should be using its early days in power to enact policies that benefit the public, including the release of political prisoners, rather than focusing on consolidating power in the person of the party’s leader.—GNLM

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