Excitement, Emotion as New MPs Arrive in Naypyidaw

By San Yamin Aung 1 February 2016

NAYPYIDAW — Burma’s new Parliament, packed with a majority of lawmakers from the National League for Democracy (NLD), will convene for the first time on the morning of Feb. 1.

Incoming lawmakers got an early and at times emotional start in the capital, filing in before the session starts at 10am.

The NLD, chaired by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, secured a landslide win in the Nov. 8 general election, 25 years after the party performed similarly in a poll that was annulled by the military.

Ma Thandar, a newly elected member of the NLD and the widow of a journalist killed in military custody more than a year ago, paid respect to one of the party’s founding figures as she prepared to take up her new role.

“I am both surprised and sad to be here today, at this moment,” Ma Thandar said. “A lot of people gave their lives for this day, such as Win Tin.”

Mahn Win Khaing Than, an ethnic Karen NLD member who has been nominated as Speaker of the Upper House, said he was prepared to lead the house, vowing that “as Daw Suu has given me this responsibility, I will try my best to be dutiful.”

Members of other parties conveyed their expectations for the new assembly, some already with a clear vision of what they hope to accomplish over their five-year term.

Arakan National Party’s Htoot May, who will assume a seat in the Upper House, said she aspires to the parliamentary bill committee, with a special interest in rule of law and resource revenue sharing.

As one of many first-time lawmakers, Htoot May has undergone intensive training in the weeks since her victory.

“It’s like attending a university,” she told The Irrawaddy.  “I am excited to be able to use what I have learned.”

Her ANP colleague Aye Tha Aung, the NLD’s choice for deputy Speaker of the Upper House, appeared calm and collected on Monday morning.

“I am neither excited nor nervous,” he said. “We were elected by the people; we just need to meet the public’s expectations.”