Published on Monday, 03 September 2012 11:19 Written by Than Htut Aung
Photo shows public was celebrating for NLD winning seats in By-election.
In my previous article, I wrote on the topic “balancing act” that has not many issues to discuss on it’s theoretical aspects. However, in the existing landscape of Myanmar politics, economics and social spheres, the application of the balancing act is much pragmatic to address the issues. Some well versed persons in Myanmar language would prefer to interpret the term as “A tree branch where the squirrels could walk on and the bees could build beehive”. However, I am of the view that it has more delicate meaning and artistic values.
The people had lived under the authoritarian regime for more than 50 long years and the social environment is humiliating with moral and physical status in the low level. Our aspiration and hope on the truth stands out on a small thin line. As if we are walking on a tight single rope, with the possibility to fall off. Therefore, the art of balancing act is very much vital. The ruling society with the backing of the military and the opposition with the supporting of the public; the hostility among the four pillars of the State and their existing check and balance system; the ultimate aim and issue to build a genuine Union through creating peace by the national races, the government and the military, which are the dilemma of the country resting on the fragile line.
Now, there are rising problems between the government and the Parliament, and also between the government and the media. The predicament between the government and the Parliament is due to the State Constitution, and the deadlock is centered at the Constitutional Tribunal. When a person thinks about the State constitution, it would be very much exhausting. I am very happy that I was not involved in the 92 percent of population that approved the State Constitution. The public will also be happy by keeping their hearts and souls away from that mess. On my part, I do not want to get into argument by holding and referring the State Constitution.
The antagonism that crops up between the government and the Parliament and also between the government and the media is mainly based on the division and allocation of three state powers, the basis of democratic essence and system. Moreover, the lack of check and balance mechanism that is yet to be established.
During the successive administration of the military regime in the past, the three powers of the nation are solely exercised by the government. At a time when these three state powers have been divided and shared among the respective bodies, the people in the administrative sphere of the past tend to hold on their previous supremacy and authority, and thus the impasse emerged. When the structure and system of check and balance of the Parliament was intervened, the “Union Level” glitch surfaced with much noise.
According to the concept of democracy, the highest authoritative persons are the voters. In the United States, the voters directly elected the Senate and the House as well as the President, and thereby, the people entrusted their power into the hands of the Representatives of the Senate and the House.
In Myanmar, the people elected the representatives of the lower house and the upper house, and the power of the people is entrusted with the Union Parliament, the combined assembly of the two houses. Through the Union Parliament, the President of the country is elected, and thence, the authorities for the administrative and judicial spheres are appointed. In other words, the people entrusted the people’s power direct to the Representatives of the Parliament. Therefore, the Parliament has the authentic rights to exercise the check and balance system in managing the administrative pillar and the judicial pillar.
I am writing this in the context of democratic basic concept. I am not sure whether there would be argumentative issue on the aspect of State Constitution. The people have no doubt to wholeheartedly accept the Union Parliament as the highest body in line with the democratic perception.
In the framework of the balancing act, the people could decide which body is wrong in the present sticky situation. Whether the Parliament? Whether the Constitutional Tribunal?
Through this angle and scope, I am of the view that the President should understand how to deal and handle the Constitutional Tribunal by exercising the power invested by the people. This does not necessarily means to side with the Parliament, but extending favor on the rights and authority of the people. The exercise of impeachment by the Parliament in a fledgling democratic nation is rather strong which is to be contemplated with much care. Even if the Constitutional Tribunal has committed a mistake, the substitution of its members by the order of the President would be much graceful and appropriate rather than dismissing all the members. That is what I am referring about the balancing act to step into the future.
In the democratic countries, the public (People’s Pillar) and the judiciary pillar administered and exercised the check and balance measure over the media. The administrative sector could not intervene in this issue. If the administrative sector interferes in this question, it tantamount to control the media and the freedom of press is being breached, and may triggered discontent of the people.
Under the tyrannical regime for 50 years in Myanmar, the freedom of press is trampled with the 1962 printing and publishing law. In the past, the Ministry of Home Affairs gripped tight the media under its control, and now, the Ministry of Information continued to press power over it.
In the democratic countries such as the United States and the UK, there is no such information ministry to suppress the media. Such information bodies, if existed, carry out the release of the government information and offer services to the public. When the newspapers, televisions and printing services face loss in term of spending, then the relevant department has to stop functioning. The private media in the genuine democratic countries is not related with the information ministry.
The one sided drafting of the print media law by the Ministry of Information, the deliberate formation of the Myanmar Core Press Council by the President Office, the filing of cases of government departments against the media at the law courts on defamation, the disturbances over the functioning of government duties, the trespassing of government property are tantamount to suppression over the Fourth Estate by the administrative pillar.
In this context, the people must exercise their rights and protest as necessary, while the Parliament should consider this issue with much seriousness in handling the matter. (Myanma Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the Rule of Law and Stability Committee, is advised to deliberate in the Parliament for the rule of law regarding the news media with fairness. We would be happy to hear deliberations in the Parliament). On the other hand, the government should stop its attempt to control over the media beyond its authority. The 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Law must be revoked and the fair media law should come into affect to enable that all the media are free from the control of the government similar to the norms of other democratic nations.
In fact, in the chronicle of Myanmar and also in the history of the world nations, dictators emerged and ruled not only for their hunger of power, but lack of check and balance system. Moreover, the most powerful leaders were mostly surrounded and assisted by inefficient, incompetent and self-seeking persons.
Such unscrupulous persons were always there hindering as a stumbling block between the leaders and the people, in other words, between the trustworthy organizers and the public. They tend to crush the people if not in line with their outlooks by using various discrimination methods. With these sinister acts, the persons trusted by the people were being organized, and eventually loss their image, finally become a person who hates the public.
These self-seeking persons will rally around the leaders and surely become the group of power grabbers. Their understanding among the crowd would be centered only on getting unjust opportunity and power. Eventually, they would reciprocate unjust economic favors to each other and become dictators. The system of check and balance is very much crucial in a country like Myanmar where personality cult is the mainstay and the over dependence on leaders is the common practice. Only the solid and firm system with good management could be able to defend and guard the rule for authoritarian regime.
Allow me to take the liberty to express that I have high impression and faith over the honorable President. However…..
(1) The matter on Press Council;
(2) The perspective of President’s Office over the Rakhine nationals;
(3) The impasse between the Parliament and the Constitutional Tribunal; and
(4) The recent reshuffle of union ministers that was not realized as required were the factors that I feel derisory or too little value to be considered seriously.
In the backdrop of these events, I am of the view that the President should assess and evaluate to his environment over the unbalanced and irregular moves.
In fact, the government should consider most critical matters of the nation and concentrate on following issues such as…
(1) The matters on Rohingya and the international relations;
(2) The economic development of the country; and
(3) The affairs on the national races and the process of peace in the country.
The comment and observation either from the media or the Parliament should be assessed and appraised without any doubt. All of us must assist and support the reform strategy of the President.
(Postscript: The Foreign Investment Draft Bill still under discussions at the Parliament is considered as not pragmatic with obvious indication of negative impacts. Therefore, the Parliament is requested and advised to reconsider the matter and comply as suggested by the government).
In fact, during the transition period of our country, there will always be the arguments, the contradictions, the conflicts and the inconveniences. Comprehensive unison and unity is not possible at this juncture. Therefore, we have to continue our journey through the balancing acts as well as the check and balance approach.
The present situation indicated that the virus of greed, lust and power has permeated not only into the blood vessels, but sneaked inside the bone marrows of the persons who would be dictators and power grabbers. Therefore, it is confusing for the analysts and observers in identifying who are the hardliners and who are the soft liners.
Who are the persons that really aspire for the reform? Are they faking themselves? Time will tell the real answer. Instead of monitoring who are supporting which side, we must all pledge to what extent that we are ready to sacrifice for the country, and then duly inform to the people.
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