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Newly elected Burmese Parliamentarian visits UK

Mr Zeyar Thaw MP

Mr Zayar Thaw MP, National League for Democracy (NLD) member of the Burmese Parliament and Mr Nay Chi Win, a Communications Adviser with the NLD, were welcomed to the Parliament on 25 June 2012 by the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU).

As a newly elected MP (sworn in but yet to sit), Mr Thaw was interested in learning how the British parliament operates and how members of parliament work to serve the needs of their constituencies. He was provided with a overview presentation by parliamentary staff on how the UK Parliament works and he noted with particular interest the importance of set procedures, precedent and customary practice.

The delegation were hosted by Baroness Kinnock to lunch with members and staff of both houses, including Lord Faulkner and Mr Peter Bottomley MP, where they discussed the differing roles of each House, the important work of parliamentary staff, the role of the committee system in reviewing legislation, voting procedures and the role of the opposition. Mr Thaw also provided members with an update on recent developments in Burma, including preparations for NLD members to make constructive contributions to democratic reform including in his new role in Burmese Parliament.

Following lunch, the Burmese guests visited Mr Jeremy Corbyn MP in his North Islington constituency to learn more about the role of a MP. They visited the Holloway Neighbourhood Group Centre which plays an important community support role in Mr Corbyn’s electorate and toured parts of the constituency, including both the new and old Arsenal football stadiums.

Accompanied by Mr Corbyn, they called on the Mayor of Islington, Councillor Jilani Chowdhury, who was born in one of Burma’s closest neighbours, Bangladesh. Mr Thaw and Mayor Chowdhury discussed the differing demands of local government and how members of the national parliament in the UK, such as Mr Corbyn, interface with their local government representatives and how both levels of government need to interact effectively to serve the needs of their constituents. Mr Thaw was very interested in the diversity of Islington and the ways in which the Mayor and local MP cooperated to support each other’s respective roles.

Mr Thaw and Mr Win were visiting the UK as part of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s delegation on her tour of European capitals, including her landmark speech in Westminster Hall, prior to members of her party assuming their seats in the Burmese Parliament. The BGIPU provided this programme in cooperation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.