In Person

‘The NLD Can’t Restrict Me Now’

By Salai Thant Zin 24 July 2017

U Sein Win, the National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker of Irrawaddy Region’s Maubin Township, resigned from the party last week.

The agriculturalist-turned-lawmaker had represented the township for the NLD since the 2012 by-election. Under the previous government, he served as the head of the Union Parliament’s Committee for Confiscated Farmlands and Other Lands for the Irrawaddy Region.

Under the current government, he was appointed as the chairman of the Farmers and Labor Affairs Committee of the Lower House, but was removed from the position last December for his alleged failure to follow NLD guidance.

He recently talked to The Irrawaddy about the reasons behind his resignation, his removal from the parliamentary committee, and his future plans.

Why did you resign from the NLD?

I am restricted by the party’s rules and regulations to go and meet farmers outside the township [Maubin]. Farmers have invited me, but I was not able to meet them. I want to meet and disseminate agricultural knowledge to farmers in any township independently without restraints.

As you won the seat in the 2012 by-election, weren’t you restricted in your communications with people outside your constituency around that time?

Yes, I was. I was not allowed to give talks outside my constituency for almost six years. I don’t know why they [restrict], but it disadvantages farmers as I am an agriculturalist.

How did you submit your resignation? And what was the party’s reply? Did they request that you stay?

I submitted the resignation dated July 14 to the party headquarters, and the Union Election Commission (UEC) told me by phone on July 20 that they had received the [NLD’s] letter informing them of my resignation. So, I confirmed my resignation. They didn’t ask me not to resign. I presented all the reasons—about the difficulties I faced since the previous term—in my resignation letter, so they knew that they had nothing to say.

Last year you sued four people including two NLD members in Maubin, according to local media, under fraud and defamation charges for allegedly distributing leaflets relating to farmers’ affairs that bore your signature. Did the lawsuits impact your decision to resign?

That time, I filed a complaint under criminal charges against the four at the police station, and the party asked me not to file the complaint. But I refused, saying that police and the judicial sector would decide whether it is an offense or not, but the party should not use its power to restrict it. Then the party removed me from the chairman position [of the farmers affairs committee], saying I didn’t obey their guidance. I stepped down willingly.

But if they are to remove a parliamentary committee chairman, there should be an internal investigation in Parliament to prove the chairman is not dutiful. I was appointed with the approval of all the MPs, but only the parliamentary speaker dismissed me. As the parliamentary speaker did this according to the instruction of the party, this means the Parliament is under the influence of the party.

Now you are an independent lawmaker, what are your future plans?

I can engage in the issues of farmers and laborers widely. They can’t restrict me now. I am able to give talks [to farmers] beyond my constituency. It is suffice to say that the resignation has given me the opportunity to help and fulfill their wishes to the best of my ability.

Some candidates contested the 2015 election using the image and strength of the party. Will you have full confidence contesting the 2020 election as an independent candidate?

I’ll engage in serving the interests of farmers as an independent candidate. I’ll do what I should depending on their wishes and support. I mean, they will decide for me whether or not to contest the next election.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko