Thursday, September 21, 2017

Politician defends political associations

A Rakhine politician has hit out at accusations that all associations and quasi-political parties allowed to form unofficially prior to the release of the Political Parties Registration Law are “government stooges”.

In the five years before the election laws were released in March, about 20 groups with a political bent had been founded, said U Zaw Myint, the general secretary of the Rakhine State National Force Party – including his own.

The party, which was officially registered on May 20, was informally established in 2005 by a group of Rakhine residents who “desired a peaceful transition” to democracy and supported the 2008 constitution, he said.

“We rely on our own finances for our existence. We practise domestic politics within the framework of law,” U Zaw Myint said. “Our party was organised to work for the good of Rakhine State in our own small way. But some elements still accuse us of being government stooges. Instead of criticising us, I urge them to study us closely and find out the truth.”

Other groups that were allowed to form before the release of the election law include the 88 Generation Student Youths Association (Union of Myanmar), National Resolidification Association, Resigned NLD Members Association and Union Democratic Alliance.

U Zaw Myint said the fact these groups were allowed to exist before the release of the law did not mean they were “sanctioned by the state”.

“Actually these forces were not sanctioned by the state but I think [they were tolerated] so that the true perspectives of domestic politics could be expressed in a constructive way within the framework of law,” he said.

The 88 Generation Student Youths Association (Union of Myanmar) and Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics, led by brothers U Ye Htun and U Aye Lwin respectively, have faced similar accusations.

Both parties are based on groups founded by the brothers in 2005 – shortly after they were released from prison – that campaigned for an end to economic sanctions.

“The people who criticise us are normally National League for Democracy followers, because those NLD people think they are the only ones who can be involved in politics,” U Aye Lwin said in an interview last month.

“Some people think that anti-government activities are the only form of real politics. Some think following the government is the only way. But we cannot practise either of these paths – that’s not real democracy,” he said.

“We want to build a new national character through a combination of the two.”

U Zaw Myint was more blunt: “The citizens of Myanmar should stop squabbling amongst each other … and start to work together for the good of the country.”

He said the Rakhine State National Force Party supported the constitution for three reasons.

“First, it may end 20 years of political conflict. Second, because of the election, the role of the people will be broadened and state power will belongs to parties elected by the people. Third, thing that are not yet included in [the 2008] constitution can be discussed in parliament and added if necessary.” – Translated Khin Aung, Thaung Nyunt and Ko Ko