By-Election Disappointment Prompts Internal Reforms at NLD                 

By Moe Moe 12 November 2018

NAYPYITAW—The National League for Democracy (NLD) will implement internal reforms in order to secure victory in the 2020 general election, according to Dr. Zaw Myint, vice chairman of the ruling party.

Speaking to the media after a meeting of the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) on Sunday evening, he said the party would conduct reforms on the ground.

“To begin with, we will reform our women’s committee, along with public campaign committees at the ward and village level. We will also revive the township public campaign committees. We will reform the party first, before considering the lawmakers,” Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said.

The CEC meeting also agreed to form a five-member committee tasked with reviewing the results of the Nov. 3 by-election, in which the party lost control of some constituencies it won in the 2015 general election.

Of 13 seats contested in the by-election, the NLD won seven—three Lower House and three regional parliament seats, and an ethnic Shan constituency in the Mandalay regional parliament.

“We received over 40,000 votes in Myitkyina in the previous election. But this fell to somewhere over 10,000 in the most recent one. Some say it was because of low voter turnout. The committee will review the results and determine the reason,” Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said.

“The committee will review the by-election results independently,” said ruling party spokesperson Dr. Myo Nyunt.

The CEC meeting openly pointed out weaknesses of party members and discussed plans for reforming the party as well as training members in the party’s rules and disciplinary procedures.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said that while some NLD township chapters had taken steps to organize public campaign groups ahead of the Nov. 3 by-election, they only existed on paper.

The party lost in some constituencies because party members there failed to listen to the voices of the people, he said, adding that the NLD would learn from the experience and take steps to avoid a repeat in 2020.

“It is never too late to mend,” said U Ye Htun, a political analyst and former lawmaker for Hsipaw Township.

“The party alone should not be blamed [for the by-election results]. As it is the ruling party, it has to manage the administration mechanism, and the weakness and faults of the government should also be blamed.

“For example, the Yangon regional government has disregarded the regional parliament, and its actions are in violation of the [2008] Constitution and procedures. Such things have nothing to do with the party, but are the faults of the parliament and the government. There are many faults that need to be fixed,” he added.