RANGOON — Aung San Suu Kyi summoned her newly elected representatives on Saturday to encourage discipline as her National League for Democracy (NLD) party assumes power early next year.
The NLD won a landslide victory against the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in a Nov. 8 general election, granting it an absolute majority in the national Parliament and the power to form the next administration.
Suu Kyi’s meeting with the party’s MP-elects was not open to journalists, though one future lawmaker briefed reporters on the conference.
Thet Thet Khaing, who won a seat in the Lower House representing Rangoon’s Dagon Township, said the party chairwoman warned incoming parliamentarians that unlawful or unethical behavior by any representative of the party would be strictly punished. She also informed her representatives that they might soon see a pay cut and will receive specialized training before being sworn in.
According to Thet Thet Khaing, Suu Kyi said that “when it comes to serving the country, there will be no compassion for you just because you are an NLD member. She emphasized that point.”
“If you don’t know something, please ask. We are ready to help you, but if you make a mistake on your own, we cannot help you make it right. If you are charged for abusing power, we will pay you a prison visit,” Thet Thet Khaing quoted the party chief as saying.
Saturday’s meeting was attended by 226 MP-elects from Rangoon and Tenasserim divisions, as well as Mon State. A similar meeting will be held in Mandalay’s Pyinmana early next month with successful candidates in other states and regions.
During Saturday’s meeting, she said, Suu Kyi stressed that she will be monitoring the party’s performance throughout its five-year term, and that elected representatives will be expected to prove their suitability as representatives.
“She said there will be a scrutiny board for NLD lawmakers to assess their performance,” Thet Thet Khaing said.
All incoming lawmakers have been encouraged to study the Constitution and the party manifesto, and to build “healthy relationships” among each other to strengthen party solidarity. Ethnic minority representatives will be prioritized for capacity building programs, Thet Thet Khaing said, to maximize their participation in crucial issues of peace and stability.
All MP-elects have also been encouraged to improve their English language skills and improve sanitation by personally cleaning up their respective constituencies, urging them to lead by example.
“She said, ‘MPs will have to be able to do the same things all people do. If you want people to do something, you have to take the lead’.”
Suu Kyi reminded party members that they ultimately must remain accountable to the people, stating that, “If people no longer love you, your political life is over. This is more important than money,” according to Thet Thet Khaing, who took detailed minutes at the conference.
Attendees were informed that they would likely see a stark reduction in salary, as the party leader said it would be unfair to be paid 1 million kyats per month while much of the population lives in grinding poverty. Assets of politicians will also be closely monitored, she said.
The current Parliament approved tripling its own salary in January of this year, but Thet Thet Khaing said Suu Kyi intends to slash the pay by about 25 percent.
The chairwoman’s firm directives were welcomed by a number of party members.
“If you are working with an organization, you have to be disciplined,” she said. “They are good rules and we have to follow them.”