Election 2020

People’s Pioneer Party Stands by Nationalist Candidate in Myanmar’s Election

By Thazin Hlaing 17 September 2020

Yangon—The People’s Pioneer Party (PPP) chairwoman, Dr. Thet Thet Khaing, says the party leadership will not remove its Insein Township candidate for the Yangon regional parliament, who has drawn criticism on social media for his history of involvement in pro-military vigilante groups and Buddhist nationalism.

“Our party will not recklessly punish anyone for their past when we don’t know exactly what happened. As a party member and a candidate, he has not violated the party’s policy and rules. That his attitude leans toward nationalism and national interests is not a crime,” said Dr. Thet Thet Khaing.

U Naing Thu Latt, the PPP’s Insein Township candidate for Yangon regional parliament, has been criticized as a stooge of Swan Ar Shin, a vigilante group backed by Myanmar’s military to suppress political dissidents during the military regime.

He is also labeled as a nationalist and alleged to have close ties with the now-banned Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, better known by the Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, formed by hardline monks.

Video clips on social media show U Naing Thu Latt abetting the police and vigilantes in a crackdown on anti-war protesters in Tamwe Township.

Ko Thet Swe Win, who led the anti-war protest, said: “This is their choice. This is about what the PPP will choose. We no longer want to see nationalist politics. If parties seek the people’s vote by manipulating nationalism, we will oppose them.”

Ko Myat Kyaw, who participated in the protest, said: “You can’t hide a dead elephant with goatskin. What he did can’t be hidden. Sadly, such a person is among the candidates. We have no trust in the PPP at all due to its candidate.”

Dr. Thet Thet Khaing, in response to the criticism, said it was just a fight between nationalists and liberals.

“This is happening because of disputes between nationalists and liberals. Nationalists attack liberals and liberals think nationalists are doing something wrong. It is the wrong attitude to determine which side is right and which is wrong,” said Dr. Thet Thet Khaing.

The party said it selected its candidates based on “diversity and inclusivity”, educational qualifications, management skills, compliance with the party’s rules and their capacity to perform legislative duties.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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