How to be an MP: Norwich parliamentarian trains new Myanmar parliamentarians in the role

Chloe Smith vistid Myanmar (formerly Burma). Pictured: Chloe Smith. Picture: Supplied

Chloe Smith vistid Myanmar (formerly Burma). Pictured: Chloe Smith. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

It has been a long road for some of the MPs taking up their seats in the new Myanmar parliament.

Chloe Smith vistid Myanmar (formerly Burma). Pictured: Aung San Suu Kyi. Picture: Supplied

Chloe Smith vistid Myanmar (formerly Burma). Pictured: Aung San Suu Kyi. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

Some have experienced long stints a political prisoner after years of oppression under military-dominated rule.

But with the historic parliament, known as the Hluttaw, starting this month, the new MPs are looking to the future with help from an array of international counterparts from East Timor to New Zealand and the UK's Norwich North MP Chloe Smith.

Among the big items on the agenda is the status of the constitution – they still need to appoint a president, finding a peace process with a number of armed conflicts in various parts of the country, not to mention the issues of providing basic agriculture, health and education services to the population.

But at a more basic level, advice from how to scrutinise bills to how to communicate with constituents was offered by MPs from across the world.


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While a proportion of the MPs are appointed from the military and a tiny number have served before, many of the MPs were new to the job.

'I was speaking to one female MP who served 11 years out of 28 year sentence, so there are some very impressive and stoic individuals among the group,' Ms Smith said.

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'As a whole you are seeing people who have put themselves up to stand up for their communities but in a culture where there is not a long tradition of doing so in a sense there has not been a democratic parliament. There is a sense of such a great opportunity now to make good on what they want to do for their constituents.'

The huge expectations on the new parliament will also come with their own pressures and the MPs running the programme suggested how to communicate and set out what they hoped to achieve and report back.

'In Britain we have a certain expectation of our MPs. We have an expectation they come and report back and work hard and hold surgeries and do a whole set of things. For many of these MPs they are starting from the basics.'

The programme also included advice on oversight of the executive, accountability and representation constituents, which was looked at in detail on each of the days.

And Ms Smith said she did feel optimistic for the MPs. 'Obviously it is a bit of a snapshot. But there was impressive support from the parliament itself. I think there is very strong and passionate leader in Aung San Suu Kyi. You can see her as a figure that I hope can bring the country together and resolve these issues and lead it forward. The issues are incredibly difficult. There is no simple solution, but they do have the advantage of a strong democratic starting point and the good will of the people behind that.'

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