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USDP Makes Pitch as Father of Burma’s Democratic Reforms

Hinting at how the party will sell itself to voters ahead of the election, a senior leader credits the USDP with birthing democracy in Burma.


RANGOON — In one of the clearest indications to date of how the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) will sell itself to voters ahead of Burma’s Nov. 8 general election, a senior leader on Thursday credited his party with setting the country on the path to democracy.

“We can say that democracy originates from the USDP, since the government that started the reforms to becoming a democratic country was our party’s government,” Tin Naing Thein, secretary general of the USDP, said in a speech broadcast on state-run television and radio, adding that the party had worked hard to repay voters who supported its candidates in the 2010 general election, a poll widely viewed as rigged.

The USDP leader touted the economic development that the country has undergone over the last four years under the stewardship of the party’s chairman, President Thein Sein, describing his administration’s “three phase” approach to democratic transition in the 15-minute speech, which all political parties are entitled to air ahead of the historic November vote.

Tin Naing Thein said the party would continue to work toward peace and reconciliation with the country’s ethnic armed groups and the alleviation of poverty, “lifting us out of LDC [Least Developed Country] status into [the ranks of] middle-income countries, as our party’s priorities, since these are much-needed requirements for Myanmar.”

The speech was received derisively by some, with a senior leader from one of the country’s strongest ethnic political parties pointing out that democracy activists had fought for the cause for decades under the country’s former military regime.

Aye Thar Aung, a central committee member of the Arakan National Party (ANP), said the thousands of people opposed to the junta that ceded power in 2011 were more deserving of the claim to have brought the country democracy, with nationwide protests in 1988 and 2007 just two of the most prominent examples.

“To get to the current situation, many lives of youths and students were sacrificed. So, we can’t accept their saying that they introduced democracy,” he said.

Taking a harder line, political analyst Yan Myo Thein said that until the country’s controversial 2008 Constitution is amended in accordance with democratic norms, a transition to democracy had not yet even begun.

“So what the USDP official said is unreasonable,” he said

Addressing the issue in his speech, Tin Naing Thein said the party had “already agreed in principle” to make changes to the charter.

“It’s not enough to only agree principally. It is important to implement practically,” Aye Thar Aung rebutted, pointing out that within the current government’s term, the USDP, which holds a parliamentary majority, failed to substantively change the military-drafted Constitution.

A handful of proposed amendments were put to a vote earlier this year, but all failed to clear a 75 percent threshold required for charter change. Though the ballot was secret, some USDP lawmakers did support the changes. Even if all of the ruling party’s parliamentarians had voted in favor, however, the amendments would not likely have passed, owing to a 25 percent reservation of seats in the legislature to the military, which is believed to have opposed the changes as a bloc.

Tin Naing Thein on Thursday also addressed the political role of the military, an institution still closely tied to the USDP. The secretary general said the party sees a need for the military to work together with Parliament, the government and Burma’s myriad ethnic groups at a time when internal conflict continues to plague the country’s peripheries.

“When the country achieves eternal peace, the military will play a defense role more than a political role, and the politics within Parliament will gradually change,” he said.

Yan Myo Thein said that the USDP leader’s remarks tying peace to a reduced political role for the Burma Army made the party appear reluctant to see the military’s political clout reduced.

“In amending the Constitution in accordance with democratic standards, it is a most basic fact to have only elected representatives in Parliament,” he added.

The political vehicle of many retired military generals including Thein Sein, the USDP came to power in a frequently criticized 2010 vote, but can take credit for political and economic reforms that prompted Western governments to lift crippling sanctions and ushered in unprecedented foreign investment over the last four years. The release of more than 1,000 political prisoners and easing of media censorship have also taken place under Thein Sein’s watch, though prisoners of conscience still remain behind bars and more than a dozen journalists have done jail time in recent years for reporting that has provoked the government’s ire.

The ruling party is expected to face a stiff electoral challenge from the country’s largest opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and dozens of ethnic political parties.

The NLD has presented itself as the true representative of democrats’ aspirations, and popular party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi has been critical of the government for not implementing more sweeping political reforms since it took power.

With public broadcasts from the USDP and the National Democratic Party for Development on Thursday, 29 of the 92 political parties registered to compete on Nov. 8 have aired their parties’ manifestos to date. The NLD has been slotted airtime on Sept. 21.

10 Comments
Zaw Min

Yes many lives of youths and students were sacrificed. It was a worthy sacrifice in 1988 to change the system but after the 1990 election, it was unnecessary sacrifice because if the people had chosen many capable representatives available then, we could have reached the present situation since 1995 just like the South Koreans. The ultimate sacrifice of many army personnel in the offensive against Kachin and Kokang are similar to the sacrifice of youths, students, activists etc. Remember that the best commanders are those who won the battle without firing a shot or getting anyone killed. So choose your leader well and follow them intelligently unlike fascist soldiers who die in vain for a lousy cause. The sacrifices of our youths, students, activists and military personnel are just like the sacrifices of the Japanese and Germans citizens and soldiers at the end of the Second World War. However, to cap these sacrifice with the laughable claim by the USDP is as disgusting as ASSK and NLD claiming the same.

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Moe

This is insane! , How about the generation of people’ who fought and lost their life for freedom. USDP is not a creator of Democracy in Burma, They come from Military and parasite of every political system in Burma. But I like to see the USDP as a defend and protector of Democracy in Burma.Next time, your friends , military try to stage military coup, you guy go out and protest in front of gun and take the bullet.OK

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Ginni

Salt on the wound. Who says there is democracy in Burma. Minorities are rights doesn’t exist. Communal riots recently instigate by the USDP. Muslims were torched and murdered by its own gangsters. Wirathu the fake monk is running the country behind the scene.
No law and order in Burma. USDP is power hungry. I am sure that it will get humiliated this time as well.
These so called USDP leaders are all fooling the international community. They have looted Burma for a decade.
Enough is enough USDP. Your days are numbered.

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Terry Evans

The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.

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kawthaw

He is talking about Burmese democracy. The ruling elites and military personals have always enjoyed democracy. It means people in power do whatever they want to do without accountability. Democracy is only for them. Citizens have little rights. Now USDP is doing everything in its power to win the election. According to a trusted source USDP sets up bogus villages which never existed before. We’ll see what happens after the election.

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David

NLD will fail because it is so greedy and always far away from practical politics. Moreover its election agendas do not include admininistration although it made economics, health, education and etc.

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2ndRangoon

BIRTHING DEMOCRACY IN BURMA
WITH DEFROCK SOLDIERS / MUFTI PARLIAMENTARIANS
THE RIGHT WORDS:
ABBOT / ABORTIO N / INDUCE / CESERIAN / ETC:
AMERCAN “HOG WASH!”
ASIAN “WHITE WASH!”
FAKE / FRAUD DEMOCRACY?????

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San Lynn

How can USDP claim to be “father of democracy” when its own Chairman Shwe Mann was removed through the help of truck loads of armed policeman rather than through a democratic way. Those who do not practice democracy in their own party are not expected to give democracy to the people. They are just bluffing and fooling the people.

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kay khine aung

What do you worry , ma ba tha? Daw aung san su kyi is seemed like a real buddhism and I trust her that she’ll do straight foregroud or background of the public. Someone who become or not an islam depend on his or her mind. If he or she trusted and obeyed the rules of buddha, he or she won’t become an islam. So a myanmar buddhism become an islam and the islams take place in myanmar don’t concern with Daw aung san su kyi. I want to ask you , ma ba tha, that do you obey all of the buddha’s rules and are you confident yourself that you are the real buddhism? I’m a real buddhism and I have some islam friends. You should try an islam to become a buddhism by giving the true mytta and by trying to see the right damah that cause in the human body and in the universe and to feel the real peaceful tase beacause all minds of everybody are innosent and the external factors that is the feeling and the thoughs influence on their acts only.How about don’t you worry christian or Hindu? Thank you.

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