Htay Oo, the general-secretary of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), has denied accusations that he threatened members of the regional assembly in Irrawaddy Division.
He said he simply attended a meeting in Nyaungdon Township in the Irrawaddy delta to mediate a dispute among USDP members because the party’s Central Committee had received many complaints.
“We don’t want disagreements between our members. That’s why I, on behalf of the party’s Central Committee, went to negotiate with them and urge them to be united,” said the USDP General-Secretary.
“I didn’t threaten anyone,” he added.
Htay Oo’s statement comes after Hsan Hsint, the speaker of the Irrawaddy Division parliament, called a press conference on Monday to tell reporters that Htay Oo had slandered the assembly members when he met with the USDP’s regional legislators in Nyaungdon on Sept. 9.
“I was surprised and unhappy to hear what he said about the assembly’s activities, and that he resorted to approaching from a personal point of view. The assembly will sue him if he says something similar again,” said Hsan Hsint.
The press conference was attended by representatives from 17 domestic and foreign news agencies, and the recorded sound file of Htay Oo’s speech was played for all to hear.
In the recording, the USDP general-secretary is heard saying that the regional MPs are only in their positions because the USDP central committee put them there, and that they are did not get these positions by being “too smart.”
Hsan Hsint said the statement was disrespectful to the regional assembly, and affects the dignity of the assembly, its speaker and its legislators. He urged the senior leaders of the USDP not to use their influence to manipulate the assembly.
Htay Oo told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that he did not understand why such an internal matter was not passed to the party’s Central Committee and was, instead, aired via a press conference. “Such division and instability only occurs in Irrawaddy Division,” he said.
“There are those with similar qualifications [to the Irrawaddy legislators] within our party,” he continued. “Some are in Parliament and some aren’t. Some sit in the government and some don’t. But we all have to work in unity. It is not appropriate for us to point fingers at each other. That’s what I said,” explained the USDP leader.
Led by ex-army generals, the USDP contested Burma’s first election in two decades in 2010 when it won 76.5 percent of the vote—taking 882 seats out of 1,154 in the Lower House, Upper House and regional assemblies.
Currently, Lower House speaker Shwe Mann also serves as acting chairman of the USDP.