RANGOON — Two members of a local National League for Democracy branch office in Rangoon were assaulted by the driver of NLD lawmaker Phyu Phyu Thin over the weekend, with party officials tight-lipped about the cause of the dust-up.
The Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township NLD’s branch chairman Thar Aung and township executive committee member Htin Aung Lin were attacked by the driver-turned-assailant on Sunday following an opening ceremony for the branch office in the township’s Kyi Taw quarter, according to Thar Aung.
On Wednesday, Thar Aung said the driver came at the two local party leaders with a “sharp instrument,” stabbing Htin Aung Lin in the abdomen. A complaint has been filed at the township police station and the accused driver was released on bail, the branch chairman said, adding that the NLD’s headquarters had been informed and asked to investigate the incident.
Both men were briefly hospitalized, according to Thar Aung, who declined to provide an explanation for what had caused the attack.
“I was just a mediator, trying to solve the quarrel, but the driver beat me very aggressively, hitting my head, and I am almost deaf now,” he said. “I am getting to the age where it is impossible to protect myself.”
The Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township police station confirmed the incident, but declined to reveal the name of the accused.
Although his release on bail would appear to indicate that local authorities do not consider the driver a threat, Thar Aung said he did not feel safe with the man’s release.
On Thursday, Phyu Phyu Thin played down the altercation and said it did not concern her, adding that the attack stemmed from “contentious personal relationships” among the individuals involved. She referred The Irrawaddy’s inquiry to the Facebook page of Kandawlay Youth for a fuller explanation of the incident, though the relevant social media post provided few additional details.
Six party members of the local branch, including the Kyi Taw quarter head and secretary, all declined to provide specifics on what motivated the attack when the branch office was visited by The Irrawaddy on Thursday. One official said he would not reveal more information out of concern for the “party image.”
Prior to being elected to Parliament’s Lower House in a 2012 by-election, former political prisoner Phyu Phyu Thin made a name for herself in Rangoon as an HIV/AIDS activist. She is running for re-election to the Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township seat that she currently holds in Burma’s Nov. 8 general election.
Raju, a local Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township resident, said Sunday’s confrontation may have stemmed from differences between two factions of the NLD within the township, with one group supporting Phyu Phyu Thin’s re-election bid, and the other favoring a new face for the seat.
The opposition NLD’s candidate selections have been a source of controversy nationwide in recent weeks, with dissent from outside and within over the candidates selected by the party’s central committee. Local chapters in several states and divisions have complained that their candidate nominations were ignored by senior party officials in Rangoon who had the final say.