- Written by Maung Sarga
It was some 60 years ago when we were in our salad days. In those days, there used to have played gramophones/record players & turntables as radios were not used widely yet, not to mention cassettes and televisions. The then events such as novitiation or wedding celebrations used to rent these gramophones, playing recorded music and stories on history by putting turntables on machines loudly enough for those from nearby villages to hear.
Stories by the then well-known Myanmar Zat Performers such as U Pho Sein, U Aung Moung, U Shwe Kyi Nyo, U Sein Aung Min & Shwe Man U Tin Maung were sweet & pleasant so much so that they could never quench people’s desire to hear. Remarkably enough, humorous jokes by U Dhat Hsi and U Dhat Hsan’s recorded jokes were very popular, nearly ubiquitous in all celebrations. Among them, one still impressed in my mind, which reads, “Never want next law to be promulgated! —— It’s the kind for mom to be afraid!” As a boy, I failed to ponder its meaning. Yet, let me share my thoughts as to why the joke was said, as time went by.
Why are people afraid of new laws to be enacted more and more?
On thinking about it, the joke was found to have intentionally been made to show people’s fear of increasing laws and rules.
Why were people in those days afraid of this? It may be attributed to two things. The first one was that they never wanted laws which would restrict them from doing freely, with the second one thought to be the scourge for the people because of power and malpractices by exercising newly enacted laws.
Seeming restriction laws over people
I hereby will describe the said some of the seeming restriction laws over the public throughout Myanmar law history. After gaining Myanmar’s Independence, 1950 Emergency Provisions Act was enacted. It was said to be the seeming restriction law over the public. Those trying to harm law & order and stability of the country used to have been arrested under section 5 (J) of the above law. Voices were made aloud saying that the suspect was not released yet till one month, despite many days more than five nights/days. (Here it needs to give a few explanations. “J” in the English alphabetical order is the tenth one. In Myanmar alphabetical order, the tenth is called “ည.” But, ည also means night. So, some people misconstrue 5 J as 5 nights.) In 2017 when the incumbent government is taking office, the said law was completely abolished.
At the very advent of the revolutionary government’s coup, law on nationalization of privately-owned factories, mills and enterprises was enacted. After making laws on entrusting authorities to build the socialist economic system, exports, imports, production and trade & commerce were under control. Simultaneously, BSPP (Burma Socialist Program Party) government issued law-like orders/statutes such as demonetization orders, causing economic crisis and anxieties among people.
State Law & Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and (SPSDC) State Peace, Stability & Development Council made enactment of laws and amendment of laws respectively. Drawing and promulgation of 2008 Constituency took time a lot. In 2010, multi-party democratic general elections were held, creating Hluttaw & government as a transitional reform. During these periods, law on peaceful procession was also said to be tantamount to restriction over the public. Soon after promulgating the law, it had to be amended. Nowadays as well, voices are being heard that communication law’s section 66 (D) restricts much on the public.
A law may be just, fair and rightful in a period or in an event, but it is impossible to be in harmony with situations in changing political systems and in every event. It should be reviewed as to whether every law is comprehensively beneficial just in an era. Some laws and rules are found to cause ill effects on the other side, though they may be right for a particular situation.
Freedom from fear of laws
For which do we enact laws. It is just to bring about the benefits of the State and its people. Protective & productive laws have to be enacted with a view to peace, stability and development of the country and survival of the people in a safe and happy way. A law must be designed for the public, not for the governing body to suppress and frighten the people. Just by promulgating laws, we are not dutiful yet. Following hat, we are responsible for implementing as per the law. Every country has a government taking responsibility of the country and its people according to laws. Hence, a law can be said to be a contract indirectly bonded between the people and the government. Thus, both sides are required to abide by it.
Very recently, in a meeting of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission, a discussion was made as to the amended law (draft) on 1949 prostitute suppression act. Initially, it was called “Law on eradication of prostitutes,” later renamed as “Prostitute suppression act.” In the present amended law (draft), amendments had been made aiming at increased punishments. Thura U Shwe Mann, commission chairman stressed, “It is necessary to ponder as to whether the naming, “prostitute suppression” is rightful or not. Unavoidably, they chose such a livelihood. Will it be convenient just by increasing punishments? Such and such facts as to how we can save their lives, which kinds of jobs we can create for them and in which way we can guide them to go on right paths should be included in promulgating it.
The former one had been enacted for long. The old must be abolished to draw up a new law, keeping new ideas in our minds. And, the wording “suppression” must be deleted. The wording “Law on prostitute,” is enough. Otherwise, another suitable name is required to be given.” The above-said statement should be a noteworthy one whenever a law is made. In making legislation, it must be drawn up to be productive laws for the nation and the people instead of seeming restriction laws over the public. Law must be for the people.
Achieve people’s force together with people for the people!
Concurrently, I came to notice statements posted by Thura U Shwe Mahn on face-book pages. Here are some excerpts from the post titled, “people’s force.”
Preparation, cancellation and compilation of laws for the emergence of laws which will be just & fair and bring about benefits for the people are under way.
It is of importance to abide by existing laws.
Persons & organizations that exercise laws are more important, and responsible.
If so, every individual can live under rule of law.
Responsible persons & organizations must be controlled in a right way through people’s force.
People’s force & participation must be emphatically lifted up for drawing laws, keeping laws & rule of law.
Under the title, “For people to live in safety and comfort”
Provided that law-abiding people are afraid of lawless ones,
Had law-keeping persons & organizations failed to act according to law people will be insecure state,
Responsible persons are required to find out those who lack obeying laws in accordance with the laws for people to live in secure state, it was described.
According to above-mentioned statements, it is obvious that legislators play an important role. People’s force must be achieved together with the people for the people, which is the essence of democracy.
Emergence of law people love through people’s participation
To sum it up, much as legislators legislate with a view to bringing about benefits for the people, people are afraid of laws due to incompetence and weakness of those who manipulate laws. In fact, no one needs to be afraid of laws, on one condition that every individual needs to follow laws. Plus, people must take part in compiling laws.
In making a law, it is necessary to find out solution, study, review and scrutinize in every aspect over actual situations, experiences and sufferings, attitudes and suggestions by discussing not only with responsible persons and organizations but also with related social societies, supporting groups and affected persons. By taking lessons from past events, assessing what are happening and making relevant decisions for what should be done, we can acquire long-lasting and fruitful results.
People’s government must implement the law people’s representatives compiled, approved and promulgated, based on people’s attitudes and suggestions, together with the people.
By doing so, people can enjoy the effects of laws in a rightful way and have rights, protection and care granted by laws, to the full.
Thus, people will learn to respect and abide by the law and they will learn to love the people’s government who implement in accord with the law by taking responsibilities, with their heart-felt trust.
May good laws people adore emerge by taking people’s force together with the people for the sake of the people, and succeed in serving people and the country!
(article from Kyemon of 2nd June Issues)
Translated by Khin Maung Oo (Tada-U)