NLD Distances Itself from Leading Voice on Education

Thein Lwin a member of the National Network for Education Reform. (Photo: Tin Htet Paing / The Irrawaddy)

Thein Lwin a member of the National Network for Education Reform. (Photo: Tin Htet Paing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Burma’s leading opposition party on Sunday distanced itself from an outspoken education reform advocate who serves on the party’s central executive committee.

In a public statement, the National League for Democracy (NLD) said that Thein Lwin, a spokesperson for the National Network for Education Reform (NNER), is not representative of the party or its policies during quadripartite discussions about education reform.

The statement warned that the NLD could take legal action against Thein Lwin, a temporary member of the NLD central executive committee, for violating party rules requiring committee approval for involvement in organizations independent of the party.

Thein Lwin was unavailable for comment on the party’s remarks.

His fellow committee member and NLD spokesperson Win Myint told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the party issued the statement to clarify that Thein Lwin’s participation in the education reform dialogue does not constitute NLD endorsement.

“He can’t represent the NLD while going to that meeting,” said Win Myint, referring to a meeting between student activists, the NNER, lawmakers and government ministers held on Sunday in Rangoon.

The first such quadripartite discussion followed weeks of swelling demonstrations against the National Education Law, passed in September 2014 amid wide-ranging criticism.

The spokesperson explained that party rules expressly prohibit involvement in independent political organizations without central committee approval, which was not sought by Thein Lwin for his role in the NNER.

“He attended that meeting by himself,” said Win Myint.

Neither the statement nor the spokesperson elaborated on what kind of “legal action” could be sought against Thein Lwin.

Citing NLD central committee member Han Thar Myint, the Democratic Voice of Burma reported on Monday that the party’s chairperson, Aung San Suu Kyi, personally disapproved of Thein Lwin’s participation on the grounds that he could be construed as representative of the party.

The Action Committee for Democratic Education (ACDE), a 15-member alliance formed amid the growing student protest movement, countered with a statement of its own accusing the NLD of attempting to disrupt the student movement at a critical moment.

The ACDE said that Thein Lwin was invited to the discussions not because of his party affiliation but because he is a credible expert and a long-standing supporter of educational progress in Burma.
The statement criticized the NLD’s timing, claiming that it aimed to “indirectly” object to student protests and could delay further discussions, which the NNER is expected to attend.
Nyo Nyo Thin, a member of the NNER, also defended Thein Lwin’s involvement in the educational reform dialogue, suggesting that the NLD’s remarks were misguided and ill-intentioned.

“Dr. Thein Lwin’s involvement in this discussion is as an expert, not a representative of the NLD. He is using his knowledge for the benefit of the country,” she told The Irrawaddy. “We welcome him as he stands by us, and what he has done should [be viewed] as a source of pride for the NLD.”

Thein Lwin has been a recurrent figure in the education reform movement since its nascent stages, having worked with the NNER since it was formed in 2012. He and the NNER were vocal critics of the National Education Law long before its passage.

The legislation was passed by Parliament in July 2014, then sent back to the floor by President Thein Sein with 25 suggested amendments. Despite strong criticism from education experts and activists, the law was passed in September after Parliament accepted 19 of the president’s amendments.

Students representing more than 300 organizations nationwide protested in several parts of the country beginning in November. Demonstrators claimed that the legislation would fail to raise educational standards, grant too much centralized control to the government and restrict the formation of student and teachers unions.

After a temporary hiatus, demonstrations resumed on Jan. 20, when hundreds of students and supporters set off by foot from Mandalay to Rangoon. The march was paused on Feb. 1 as student leaders attended initial quadripartite discussions with other stakeholders in Rangoon, where they agreed to a framework for continued dialogue geared toward amending the controversial law.

Talks will continue of Feb. 3, when stakeholders will reconvene in Naypyidaw to begin addressing 11 demands set by student activists.

3 Responses to NLD Distances Itself from Leading Voice on Education

  1. In organization management, NLD use too much centralization- many activities are directly controlled by CEC. Without empowerment of the sub-committees, district and township level committees, NLD party may have problem in campaigning for the 2015 election.

  2. The year recogning is 2015 in Burma because of the national election. People have a rare chance to overthrow the military-aligned government by vote. No one will be able to silence the people voice this time of technology. The USA president had warned the Burmese public that they could only monitor, advise and sanction the military government. As an outsider, they could not send the troops to Burma. The onus is on the general public to strive for their freedom because the people voice is the most lethal poison for the despotic regimes across the globe. The NLD had to make sure that the election will go ahead without obstructive destruction by the military rulers. The military is waiting at the wing to take over power if the unrest in the country become uncontrollable. The NLD as the people party genuinely support the current student protests. But the NLD official involvement in the Student demonstration could become pretext for the military to politicise the social issue, declare the NLD involvement in the demonstration, and annull the election. This is the last one we like to see in our lif time. The Burma is holding her breath this year awaiting free and fair election to be happened. Please do have the understanding that NLD need to distant themselves from the student demonstration. Indeed the student movement is more powerful than the opposition party. The people power is marching to Rangoon now. Please keep the demonstration far away from the political parties. If the troops shot at the student demonstration, the political will step in to shore up the support. The particular office bearer of the NLD should resign from the executive commitee to keep the student movement in uniquely stand alone issue.

  3. Dear Sir

    Freedom of expression is under attacked by the NLD! It is what the message that the NLD wanted to send to the public. Righs to engage, participate and discuss on a matter of public if just ‘civil rights’, it is not the rights the NLD can ever remove from anyone, eithr its members or the public. I am amazed the the NLD’s education department has been lacking behind the public’s mode. If Dr T. Lwin has not been advacted in the last 25 yers, imagine where is the NLD’s own education policy to launch in 2012. It is a lack of logic by the NLD’s leaders in the matter. Dr T . Lwin could be the best ever Burma have to be excellent Education Minister if the NLD is formed a Government in post 2015. It is lack of judment by the NLD’s leader to release this statement have gone to public instead of the NLD’s own internal power-broker issues. If we trust the current, Parliament then it is over. Just try to win the vote. The current parliament is not fully controlled but President office runs the country. If the NLD missed intreprete the real mode of the public, the trust of the people will be not on the NLD side as before. The NLD could distance from the Students’ movement but at the end, they are son and daughter of Burma. The NLD should apology to Dr. T. Lwin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Comments with external links in the body text will be deleted by moderators.