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Aug-11-2012 15:25printcomments

People's Voice Needed to Establish Rule of Law

“...Unless we have such a system it is no use having the best laws in the world,” - Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been elected to chair the new "rule of law" committee in the Lower House, which has far reaching powers. Suu Kyi called for laws to protect the legal rights of ethnic minorities and businesses in her inaugural speech to the Parliament. Photo: AFP

(RANGOON Mizzima) - Parliament Legal Affairs and Investigating Committee member Than Maung told a Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) meeting this week that people must understand that the police, courts, public administrators and government staff are all public servants who are bound to serve within the rule and regulations of the government.

It’s necessary for people “to raise their voice over their grievances and dissatisfactions with the legal framework. Only then will there be rule of law and our country will keep up internationally as a democratic country,” Than Maung said.

For example, Than Maung said there is illegal logging and mining in the country, but little is done to prevent the abuses, including damage to the environment.

“We have laws to curb and control these illegal businesses, but they were present in the past and are still thriving in the country,” he said. “We need to tackle them with stern action.” A positive sign, he said, is the formation in Parliament of the 15-member Rule of Law Committee, formed on Tuesday. A Union-level committee, it has the authority to summon union ministers and union-level officials to respond to public complaints.

National League for Democracy party chairman Aung San Suu Kyi was named chair the committee and NLD member Win Myint will serve as secretary.

The committee has a wide range of responsibility involving civil servants, judicial bodies, legislation and media. It can also propose amendments or legislation in the Lower House, he said.

During her by-election campaign, Suu Kyi made the rule of law a major campaign issue.

In June, Mizzima reported that Suu Kyi said Burma needed rule of law more than safeguards for investors at this time in the country’s transition to democracy.

Speaking at the 21st World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok on June 1, she warned businessmen that “even the best investment law would be of no use whatsoever if there is no court clean enough and independent enough to be able to administer these laws justly.”

“Good laws already exist in Burma, but we do not have a clean and independent judicial system. Unless we have such a system it is no use having the best laws in the world,” she said.

Suu Kyi and Burmese President Thein Sein have formed a reformist duo, each in their own way working to move a country long repressed by a brutal military regime into the ranks of the world community of democratic nations, a task that will take years if not decades.

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