Parliament has so far approved two of the four bills known as the protection of race and religion laws. The Health Care for Population Control Bill was signed into law by President U Thein Sein after receiving approval in May. Earlier this month approved the Inter-faith Marriage Bill and it was submitted to the President to be enacted.
Frontier asked prominent National League for Democracy MP Daw Sandar Min, who represents Zabuthiri Township in Nay Pyi Taw, for her opinion on the controversial package.
What is your opinion of the Health Care for Population Control Bill, which has provision that women should space births three years apart?
This law is not good and effective for our country. It is only agreed by parliament in order to satisfy the President. Our monks’ association, Ma Ba Tha [the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion], asked the President for the four bills to be passed. The President wants the votes from the people. In the villages and around the country, the monks are very influential and powerful.
The bill should only be approved as a regional law, not for the entire country. It should be applied in regions or states that are very crowded, especially in Rakhine State, for the Bengali people. These bills are aimed at the Bengali, everybody knows that. In places like Chin State, there are very few people, so these bills are not needed there.
Many in the international community believe that these bills target the ‘Bengali’, or Rohingya as they call themselves. They say the approved and proposed legislation violates basic human rights.
In our country, we receive the Bengali people, not as citizens for Myanmar nationality, but we help them for humanitarian reasons. Most people, especially on the democratic or ethnic side, are not satisfied with these bills. We do not think that these four bills are needed.
So these laws should only affect the ‘Bengali’?
The Ma Ba Tha wants to defend Myanmar women from marrying with Bengalis, that’s the first point. We do not want to see marriage between Bengali people and Myanmar people. Why is there such dislike of Bengali people? Especially I think it is the religion, the Muslim religion. There is fear; people are scared. They believe there are no women’s rights [in Islam]. If a woman marries a Muslim, she loses her rights.