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Ma Ba Tha subtly warns against voting for NLD MPs

Buddhist nationalist groups set off on September 14 to begin two weeks of celebrations of the four controversial race and religion bills recently signed into law. The rally of monks and lay people, including representatives of the Ma Ba Tha, began their prayers and celebrations at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Photo: Hong Sar/Mizzima

By Mark Yang
September 16, 2015

The Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion, or Ma Ba Tha, held a celebration for the approval ofthe last of four “Race and Religion Protection Laws” on September 14 and used the occasion to warn against voting for NLD members whom they likened to prawns.

The four laws are the Religious Conversion Law, the Population Control Law, the Myanmar Buddhist Women's Special Marriage Law and the Monogamy Law. They were submitted to the Myanmar Parliament in December 2014. The Parliament adopted them this spring and President U Thein Sein recently signed the four Bills into law.

To celebrate the passing of the four Laws, Ma Ba Tha led a homage-paying-ceremony at Shwedagon Pagoda in the morning. Afterwards the group and its supporters, in almost one hundred cars, drove from Shwedagon Stupa's West Gate at 7:30 to the Pitaka Thone Pon Ni Ka Monastery.

There, Sayardaw U Yay Wa Ta read out a letter from Sayardaw U Ti Law Ka, the Chairman of Yangon Region Ma Ba Tha (Central). In the letter, U Ti Law Ka said: “Today is a very special day. The Race and Religion Protection Laws are passed because Parliament adopted the laws and President Thein Sein signed off on them. If Myanmar Women marry men of a different religion, they will not be accepted anymore. Myanmar's Race and Religion Laws are the same as race and religion protection laws in the other three big religions which are also followed by the people in Myanmar.”

He noted that such laws would not so easily be passed by a new government and it was necessary to remember people who tried and helped to pass the laws as “People who have served their responsibilities in history”. U Ti Law Ka noted that these people were President U Thein Sein, Members of Parliament who voted for them, Ma Ba Tha monks and the Myanmar people who petitioned for the laws.

“There are almost 6 million people who signed to approve these four laws,” the Ma Ba Tha (Central) Deputy Secretary Maw Kyun Sayardaw claimed.

Maw Kyun Sayardaw continued, “President U Thein Sein who finalized the passing of these Bills has fulfilled a very distinguished national responsibility.”

When President U Thein Sein tried to pass one of the four Bills, there were 35 votes against its passing. Among the 35 MPs, it was noted that 33 were NLD MPs.

“On that day of voting, the Chairman of the ‘League of Prawns’ who is also a MP didn't attend Parliament. In fact, she avoided voting. However, she ordered all ‘Prawn’ MPs to reject the bills. That's why all ‘Prawn’ MPs gave reject votes. We should be aware of it,” Maw Kyun Sayardaw said, implying NLD MPs were against the bills.

“Although the laws are for the good of the people, we will lose votes when trying to pass similar laws in the future if there are many MPs that are like ‘prawns’ in a future Parliament,’’ he noted.

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