Authors:

  • Philipp Annawitt – Programme Specialist (SERIP)
  • Thomas Gregory – International Committee Specialist (SARL)
MP U Toe Lwin at a community meeting in Kyunsu Township, Tanintharyi Region

An MP’s First Duty – Serving their constituents

The very first thing that Members of Parliament do, even before there is legislation to consider or committees are formed, is to represent their constituents. From the moment they are elected, MPs represent all of the people in their constituency, and those people expect their elected MP to assist in dealing with all sorts of issues. Whether dealing with an individual complaint or a problem affecting thousands in the constituency, MPs are in a unique position of great responsibility to assist their constituents and ensure their perspectives are represented at the Region/State or the national level.

Region and State MPs in their constituency – successes and struggles

From our Situation Analysis of Myanmar’s Region and State Hluttaws we at UNDP know that MPs in the Region and State Hluttaws spend most of their time in their constituency -  meeting constituents at their party offices and visiting their communities regularly to attend community events and organize town hall meetings. In the field they inform their constituents about the Hluttaw and their work in it, they collect a wide variety of requests for support, and they gather data about the development needs of their township - to raise them at the Hluttaw.

Former MP Carl Defaria of Ontario, Canada shares his experience of constituency work with MPs from Mon, Kayin and Tanintharyi Regions and States

As the Situation Analysis documents, Myanmar’s MPs have had amazing achievements but they struggle to respond to all of the personal and community requests they are presented with on a daily basis. They often lament that they are unable to adequately fight for the development needs of their constituencies at the Hluttaw.

Constituency Professional Development – how UNDP helps

Under our Strengthening Rule of Law and Accountability (SARL) Project, UNDP has put together a programme that helps MPs be more strategic, focused, pro-active and better supported by data for their constituency work. In interactive master classes MPs learn from experienced international MPs – and from each other – how to use data in profiling the constituency, how to among other things manage individual cases and track the progress they are making, how to communicate with different groups in their constituency, and strategies for their representation work at the Hluttaws.

A Constituency profile for Kutkai Township produced by the Union-level Hluttaws’ research services.

To provide MPs with data they can act on, UNDP is supporting the Union Hluttaws’ research departments in producing constituency profiles which bring key demographic and socio-economic data for their townships. In the Professional Development Programme, MPs learn to interpret those data and use them for advocacy or as the basis for further research. The profiles for a first set of townships are ready and are already being used by these townships’ MPs.

By June 2019, the constituency engagement programme has been successfully rolled out to 109 MPs, 11 of them women, from Kayah, Kayin, Mon, Tanintharyi, Mandalay, Shan, Chin, Rakhine and Sagaing Region and State Hluttaws already. Programmes for MPs of the remaining Regions and States will follow.

These activities help document the stories and experiences MPs share and the good practice taking place across Regions and States. We will produce and shared with all MPs a ‘guide to best practice’, which brings together international best practice and case studies of effective work by Hluttaw MPs. This guide will be a valuable resource for current MPs and will help future MPs hit the ground running.

Related Projects

  • Support to Effective & Responsive Institutions Project (SERIP)

    SERIP is a 5-year initiative that aims to strengthen the effectiveness of state executive and legislative institutions in understanding the needs and aspirations of the people of Myanmar, in all their diversity but also growing inequalities, and in formulating, implementing and evaluating policies as well as in appropriating public resources in a way that provides effective, timely and equitable responses to these aspirations.

  • Strengthening Accountability and Rule of Law (SARL)

    The SARL project supports the Government of Myanmar to enhance public trust in state institutions at a critical time in Myanmar’s transition. Building on the clear initiative of all three branches of the state to promote transparency and accountability, the project helps to strengthen institutional frameworks and capacities for good governance. The project also empowers rights holders and engages them in accountability mechanisms.

UNDP Around the world