Activists Drop Reference to '88 Uprising in Bid for Party Recognition

By Zarni Mann 9 July 2018

MANDALAY — The prospective Four Eights People’s Party changed its proposed name to the People’s Party on Sunday, following an order from the Union Election Commission (UEC) to come up with a new handle in response to public criticism.

The new name was chosen from several options proposed during a meeting the prospective party held in Mandalay on Sunday.

“We will drop Four Eights, and the new name is the People’s Party,” U Ko Ko Gyi, one of the organizers, said during a press conference.

He said the proposed party flag will be yellow and red with two hands holding a torch in the center and that the logo will consists of just the hands holding the torch.

Party officials said they would submit the new name, flag and logo to the UEC today, just ahead of the Friday deadline by which parties must register for November’s by-elections.

“We will submit the new name, flag and logo urgently because we do not want to lose the opportunity to register the party. However, we are not going to participate in the upcoming by-election,” U Ko Ko Gyi said.

Once they are received, the UEC will publish them in state-run media to give the public a chance to respond.

“If there are still objections and disagreements, we have a plan B and will try our best to form a new political party,” U Ko Ko Gyi said. “The challenges and hardships we have faced over our name have attracted a lot of interest and many people from different regions across the country have joined us, so we believe we will become a successful political party that can create better lives for the people.”

The organizers said more than 200 people from across the country joined Sunday’s meeting.

The hopeful party plans to appoint U Ko Ko Gyi as chairman and U Ye Naing Aung as vice-chairman, but it has yet to reveal who else would comprise its central committee.

U Ko Ko Gyi and the others organizing the party rose to prominence as activists during the 1988 student uprising. But when they proposed the party’s first name in December, Four Eights, some objected that they were expropriating a reference to the uprising that belonged to the people and the UEC ordered them to come up with something else.

Critics said 8888, the date the uprising began, was a historic moment in the country’s long struggle against dictatorship and should not be used by a political party.

In March the organizers proposed the Four Eights People’s Party, but the public objected once more and the UEC ordered them to try again.

On Sunday, U Ye Naing Aung said they hoped their third attempt would steer clear of the controversy.

“We will make sure there’s no sign or hint of the 1988 uprising in our party name and logo,” he said.