NLD Youths Form Party’s First Policy Research Unit

Nay Chi Win leads the NLD’s newly-formed research department, which plans to better inform Burma’s main opposition on policy matters. (Photo: Patrick Boehler / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON—A group of young activists has set up the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) first research unit, enlisting high-profile international names for training as Burma’s main opposition party seeks to improve the lack of clear policy direction ahead of elections in 2015.

With so many of the party’s members thrown in prison, hiding underground or forced into exile during the past 25 years, the NLD faces a huge challenge in educating its cadres about conditions in Burma and drafting policies in time for the elections.

The NLD was criticised for failing to hold any discussions on policy during its first-ever party congress earlier this month. The young activists in the new research unit hope to start addressing the problem.

A core group of 10 volunteers, working from the NLD headquarters and one of their apartments in central Rangoon, has gathered 32 more activists from around the country to learn about agriculture, economics and transitional politics, while also collecting data and poring over as much research material as they can find.

“The NLD has enough members, but when it comes to capacity, there are many problems,” said Nay Chi Win, who is leading the party’s research department. “We need to educate ourselves and our party very quickly. We are not academics, but we want to do something for our party.”

To get the project off the ground, Nay Chi Win enlisted the help of long-time friend Benedict Rogers, a human rights activist with Christian Solidarity Worldwide and author of several books on Burma.

In turn, Rogers convinced several high-profile figures, including Australian economist Sean Turnell and former ambassadors from Britain and the Czech Republic to visit Rangoon and teach classes for the group.

“I asked Ben to find people who want to help Burma and won’t just come and ask for Aung San Suu Kyi’s autograph,” said Nay Chi Win. “I told him not to ask what we need—we don’t know about the outside world, we don’t have capacity. We just need help.”

The volunteers travel to Rangoon once a month for the classes. After six months, they are told to find another batch to start training, and to begin conducting surveys in their local area.

“The priority right now is to learn about agriculture and land confiscation,” said Nay Chi Win “We also ask international NGOs for reports, we read and analyze them and then we submit our findings to the senior leadership.”

Rogers said the project was vital to the future of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. “Any political party needs policy research to feed into its politics, as well as development of its future leaders. A lot of preparation is definitely needed for the NLD before 2015 and there is not much time.

“The NLD is often criticised for not doing enough on policy, but given where they came from, it is quite remarkable that they have come to where they are today. That gives me hope that they can develop further,” he said.

10 Responses to NLD Youths Form Party’s First Policy Research Unit

  1. Very impressive for a Single Woman Party to have a “Research Department”. Like pretty pictures on a Sole-protector!

  2. I am very much interested to join this group. How could I join? Send my resume by e-mail or just call to the organizer? Could I get your e-mail or/an your telephone number? By the way i am going back to Rangoon by the end of this month and I will be there for two weeks.

    • Two weeks? You can change Burmese political landscape in one week. You are super man.

    • You might be able to email to “[email protected]” to ask for the voluntary service. I found the email address from which I hope their official website. But I have to agree with Sunshine that two weeks might be a little bit too short to join the group as you might also want to spend time with your family and relatives. But you can find out how you can do this next time when you visit to Burma. Good luck!

  3. Alas, the NLD youth asked Ben Rogers to help organize trainings! It points out that both the party leadership and the youth wing of the NLD doesn’t know much about foreign professionals.

    Ben Rogers has made a fortune out of Burmese politics for years, writing books on Burma and as a Burmese lobbyist. Yet, he doesn’t really know about Burma! Sorry the NLD, your future seems to be shattering if you think Ben Rogers is the best man who can help NLD.

    By the way, what about Sean Turnell? Same S**t! He said he has been appointed as an adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi must have gone mad. This self-styled economist also made substantial profits doing research and writing on Burma. He might be able to give some ideas to the NLD but, trust me, he won’t be allowed to work formally in Burma.

    What do these people think they are dealing with? The Burmese generals are really good in strategic relations and statecraft.

    • You really must have a lot of jealousy issues.

      They don’t need to have the best person for the job. They just need to have the right person with the right attitude, who is willing to help them and make themselves available.

  4. I want to let young people in NLD, your ASSK is not like the same she was, please join 8888 generation to be perfect for opposition party. Assk is no longer apposition leader, she just power thirsty like Military junta or military thug . After I heard how NLD proceed their party nomination and how they select their central body and how they select EC, they are not far from Newin Burmese socialist Procedure. Assk is just power hunger not less than Burmese military . The more she silent, the more she got respect.

    • Well! We never know her tactics. Her approach seems very logical and wise since she needs to tame the beasts first to rebuild our nation. She is not a perfect human being but she is far better than other men and women in the floor of Hlutdaws.

    • Those young NLD persons cannot join 8888 generation simply because 8888 generation group hasn’t formed a political party yet. If you want them to hang out with 8888 generation, don’t you think they are too old for them? Say “Cheese”!!

  5. Can anyone assure me that 8888 will not turned into recent NLD or even USDP one day?

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