RANGOON — Among other exciting developments in Burma’s ruling party this week, outspoken lawmaker Hla Swe has become embroiled in an escalating feud with a political rival.
The famed blusterer and member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) took to social media on Wednesday to threaten legal action against a candidate for the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).
NLD member Pyu Lwin recently submitted a complaint to the Land Investigation Commission recommending an inquiry into Hla Swe’s alleged links to land grabbing under the former military regime.
Pyu Lwin reportedly plans to contest Hla Swe’s seat in Magwe’s Gantgaw Township in a general election to be held on Nov. 8.
In a Facebook post dated Aug. 12, Hla Swe denied allegations of land confiscation and vowed to retaliate against the party if the claim affected his ability to participate in the election.
“I just want to remind [those concerned] that if there is any legal case about this, the NLD will lose a candidate,” the post warned.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday evening, the lawmaker said he was preparing to seek defamation charges against Pyu Lwin should the claim reach the courts, tit for tat.
“If I sue him during the election period, he won’t be able to contest. I would like to advise the NLD to be ready with a substitute if he is unable to compete,” Hla Swe said.
Pyu Lwin confirmed to The Irrawaddy that he submitted the complaint against Hla Swe, claiming he had ample evidence to prove his involvement in wrongful acquisition. Without remarking on the pre-election timing of the complaint, Pyu Lwin said only that “I am his competitor, so he will use [this case] to attack me personally.”
Hla Swe is no stranger to controversy, prone as he is to frank commentary. In 2013, he earned the nickname “Bullet” after suggesting that civil conflict in northern Burma’s Kachin State might best be resolved by bullets if diplomacy failed.
The brash lawmaker again made headlines in June after posting a homophobic rant on his Facebook page, bragging about using homosexual men as forced laborers.