Tatmadaw holds press conference in Yangon
Yangon February 23
The Tatmadaw True News Information Team held a press conference on the situation two months after the announcement of the statement on ceasefire and eternal peace and the attitude towards the constitutional amendment at Yadanathiri Golf Club of Yangon Command this afternoon.
Present at the press conference were members of Myanmar Press Council and Myanmar Journalist Association, and 128 media persons of internal news agencies, dailies, local and foreign TVs, and local-based foreign news agencies totaling 69.
First, Chairman of the Tatmadaw True News Information Team Maj-Gen Soe Naing Oo explained in detail the failure of armed ethnic groups to observe the statement on ceasefire and eternal peace by the Office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army) issued on 21 December 2018, the Tatmadaw’s operations to neutralize the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-NSCN (K)’s base camp and its training camps and the activities of AA insurgent group.
In his clarification, Maj-Gen Soe Naing Oo said during the two months after the announcement of the statement on ceasefire and eternal peace, the armed ethnic groups in the areas of five military commands made engagements with the Tatmadaw for six times, armed clashes between themselves for 25 times, launched activities beyond the designated area for 286 times, collected extortion money for 22 times, and recruited new members for 30 times. NSCN (K) has signed the peace agreement with the region level peace restoration group of Sagaing Region government. The group had offended the peace agreement. As regards the group’s offences, the Tatmadaw has made official news announcements for three times, and expounded the matter, with the seized photos as the proof. NSCN (K) had harboured and provided training for some anti-India armed groups. The Tatmadaw is totally against any acts to use a Myanmar territory as a base to harm the stability of neighbours. Likewise no attempts should be made to harm the peace and stability of Myanmar. The Tatmadaw is trying to restore eternal peace in the border areas. The Tatmadaw always abides by the five principles of peaceful co-existence, which is the foreign policy of Myanmar.
Maj-Gen Soe Naing Oo said copying the ARSA’s methods the AA insurgent group is attacking police outposts, temporary base camps, and launching mine attacks even on the Union Highway. He then explained the efforts of AA insurgent group to build base areas, hardcore areas and organization areas in Rakhine State. He said the Tatmadaw will never tolerate the AA efforts to demand democracy through armed struggle line. As the AA insurgents are disturbing the administrative machinery, causing hardships for the people, harming the lives and property of the people, destroying road transport, the Tatmadaw will continue to strive for ensuring peace and stability in Rakhine State.
Talking about the Tatmadaw’s stance on the constitutional amendment, Vice Chairman of the committee Maj-Gen Tun Tun Nyi explained step-by-step efforts for writing and enacting the 2008 constitution, the emergence of a new government led by President U Thein Sein by holding multi-party democratic elections in accord with the constitution and the duty assumptions by the incumbent government led by the National League for Democracy after it had been elected in the accordance with the 2008 constitution. With regard to the submission of an urgent proposal by Hluttaw Representative U Aung Kyi Nyunt from Magway Region Constituency No (4) calling for the formation of a joint constitutional amendment committee with appropriate Pyidaungsu Hluttaw representatives, he said it contradicted the requirements of an urgent proposal and it should have gone in accord with the procedures as charter amendment is already prescribed in Chapter 12 of the constitution with Section 433 to Section 436 and Chapter 18 of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Bylaw with Section 133 to Section 137. Decision through voting comes only when there is no other way so Tatmadaw Pyithu Hluttaw representatives had to show their objection. When responding in protest in parliament, no microphone was turned on. Live broadcasting of the Hluttaw meeting was cut off and was replaced by a music programme. Regarding the cut-off, the Myanma Alin and Kyemon dailies and MOI Webportal Myanmar reported on 1 February that the live broadcast cut-off was due to low connection of fiber network. In response, Myawady newspaper reported in its 8 February issue that it was not due to fiber network but due to other way by MRTV. The Tatmadaw representative group sent a letter of objection to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw speaker on 30 January as the move was not in line with the constitution or the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw By-laws. However, through voting, the Huttaw decided to discuss the proposal to form a joint charter amendment committee to pave the way for making preparations to amend the constitution.
Despite saying about the need to take time to discuss and review by respective representatives groups in forming such a committee, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Office circulated copies of a draft on the formation of a joint constitutional amendment committee with Letter No (7/14/1(70)/Pa-Hta-Sa-2019 dated 13 February 2019. During the coordination meeting held on 15 February 2019, Tatmadaw Hluttaw representatives submitted five points to show their objection to the committee formation. Those points are (a) informing that the committee is to be formed with 45 members and that name lists are to be sent not later than 16:00 hours on 14 February 2019 although there is a need for respective representative groups to discuss and review by taking time as the membership proportion in the committee is not fair; (b) the distribution of the draft copies although there is a need for members of the committee to discuss and decide on details of the joint committee’s objectives, duties, responsibilities, powers, procedures, rights and tenure; (c) with such a 45-member committee and its membership ratio, there will be no adequate membership strength for intellectuals and intelligentsia, ethnic representative groups, political parties and departmental officials to study, review and analyze by seeking suggestions in order to amend the whole constitution and there cannot be complete details and justice; (d) the constitutional amendment needs time and all-inclusiveness as the Constitution is concerned with the entire nation, and a wide array of representative groups took time in drafting it through inclusive efforts at the National Convention that began in 1993; (e) the motion was passed under the provision saying that the decision must be based on the majority votes of the attendees if there is no other provision in the Constitution and the relevant laws in making a resolution through the ballot box in accordance with the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw bylaw 14 (a); the person who tabled the motion and the deputy speaker explained that the motion was not concerned with the sections 433, 434, 435 and 436 of the 2008 Constitution; the attached draft of the to-be-formed joint committee is not a process for constitutional amendment as the joint committee was not formed in accordancewith the section 117 and 149 of the 2008 Constitution. But it can be found that the Hluttaw passed a resolution to form and assign the joint committee through balloting on 19 February 2019. As the resolution was passed in that way, Hluttaw representatives have the duty to join the joint committee in line with the Hluttaw law and bylaws. In this regards, eight Tatmadaw representatives were nominated as members of the joint committee. Apart from the said duty, they have the duty to support or oppose the discussions and implementations of the joint committee in accord with the law.
At a press conference held at artillery armoured Joint Military Exercise between Tatmadaw (army and air) (Exercise-Bayintnaung) on 31 January, the Senior General said that the Tatmadaw did not demur the amendment of the 2008 Constitution adding that the formation of amendment committee is illegal and it should be in accordance with Chapter 12 of the Constitution and Chapter 18 of the Parliamentary Rules. The Commander-in-Chief already said that he agreed to the amendment to the constitution in principle and never said it would not be amended. It is necessary to prepare systematically and the provisions actually needed to be amended will be changed at a right time. In his reply to the query raised by Asahi Shimbun News Agency at the exclusive interview on 14 February, the Senior General said he agreed with constitutional amendment in principle and never said not to amend it. Efforts were made to amend the constitution during the then government’s term. It is necessary not to hamper the essence of the constitution. The Tatmadaw did not demur charter change and it only objected to amending it not in line with the laws, rules and procedures.
The Tatmadaw is neither a political party nor an opposition party. The Tatmadaw does not get involved in party politics, and it is just shouldering political and national duties only. The Tatmadaw is never biased against any party or organization and will always stand firm only in the interests of the country and the people.
Later, Maj-Gen Soe Naing Oo, Maj-Gen Tun Tun Nyi and Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun, Tatmadaw Hluttaw representatives and members of the Tatmadaw True News Information Team replied to the queries raised by respective news agencies. The complete answers to the questions during the press conference will be published in the Myawady Daily.