A survey by the Constitution Amendment Implementation Committee, which was submitted to the Union Assembly on October 22, shows that military MPs in both parliamentary houses will not support amendment of Article 436.
Many politicians, including members of the National League for Democracy, have been calling for amendment of Article 436. The article effectively gives the military MPs - who make up 25 percent of parliamentary seats - veto power over proposed moves to amend the 2008 Constitution, a constitution written by the former military government.
U Aye Tha Aung, a central executive committee member of the Rakhine National Party, said: “To reform the country, the 2008 Constitution must be amended. Now, they’ve blocked the efforts to amend the constitution, so it shows they don’t want reform.”
Article 436 of the 2008 Constitution says amendments need approval of more than 75 percent of parliament, after which a nationwide referendum would need to be held, securing more than 50 percent of the public vote.
The National League for Democracy, which earlier this year launched a public awareness campaign calling for support for amending Article 436, wants the parliamentary vote to not include non-elected MPs – to exclude the parliamentary military block from having a say.
U Nyan Win, National League for Democracy central executive committee member, said: “Generally, it [the army] does not want reform. So, it has made provisions so that it is difficult to amend the constitution. And now, they don’t want to amend the section ; that means they don’t want reform.”
Dr. Yan Myo Thein, a political observer, said if Article 436 cannot be amended, political reform is likely to be blocked.
“If the section 436 is amended, the army’s dominance will be challenged. That’s the main reason,” he said.
Mon National Party central executive committee member Nai Ngwe Thein, who wants the Constitution to be redrafted, said, “We cannot agree with the attitude of the Army.”
Dr. Yin Myo Thu, from the Department of International Relations at the University of Yangon said, “I’ve already said earlier that there are many things to be amended. And they must amend [the Constitution].”