The no-show in the Myanmar parliament by the National League for Democracy was an embarrassment for all concerned.
It should have been a day for both the reformists in the government and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party to celebrate.
Instead, it was a flop and the people of this country are left with more questions, when what they really need are answers to their many problems.
The oath that new members of parliament have to take basically says that they must “safeguard” the constitution.
The NLD wants it changed to “respect” the constitution, because they want to amend the charter, which reserves a quarter of all seats in parliament for the military. It wants, among other things, all MPs to be democratically elected.
But relatively speaking, the oath is not new. It’s part of a 2008 constitution drafted by the previous military regime. So why was it only raised by the NLD a matter of days ago?
In November, parliament sat, and on the recommendation of the Election Commission, passed an amendment to the party registration law that said all parties registering for an election must agree to “safeguard” the constitution.
It was changed to say that parties must “respect” the constitution. This was something Suu Kyi had pushed for, and along with other changes, cleared the way for her and her fellow members, to stand in this month’s by-election.
But if the party had delved deeper, it would have discovered the wording in the parliamentary oath was the same.
They would have realised that if they won seats in the by-election, they would have to utter the exact same words that they lobbied to have removed from the party registration law.
So, in her dealings with the government and parliament officials, why did Suu Kyi not press for the oath to also be changed?
Judging by the silence coming from the NLD now, we are left to assume this was a serious oversight by the party and they’re now trying hard to lobby the power brokers again, in particular the president, Thein Sein.