Lower House Elects Ex-USDP Lawmaker as House Speaker

By The Irrawaddy 22 March 2018

The National League for Democracy elected U T Khun Myat, an ex-USDP lawmaker from Kutkai Township in northern Shan State, as the Lower House Speaker to fill in the place of U Win Myint, who submitted his resignation from the post on Wednesday.

U T Khun Myat, a 68-year-old ethnic Kachin, was a deputy Lower House speaker until yesterday. He was also a chairman of the Lower House’s Bill Committee during this parliamentary term.

The Lower House elected a new speaker on Thursday from two nominations: U T Khun Myat and U Thaung Aye, the current USDP lawmaker from the Pyaw Bwe constituency in Mandalay Region.

But independent lawmaker T Khun Myat was voted in with 280 votes, while U Thaung Aye earned 141.

The Lower House continued to nominate the new deputy speaker and the NLD’s U Tun Aung aka U Tun Tun Hein, from the Naung Cho constituency in Shan State, was elected with 270 votes against Dr. Maung Thin, a USDP lawmaker from Meikhtila constituency in Mandalay, who received 143 votes.

T Khun Myat has been a lawmaker since January 2011. He was re-elected in the 2015 general election and continues to serve the same constituency. He was a lawyer for 35 years and was the director of the Attorney General’s Office until 2010.

He resigned from the USDP in 2017 and is said to be close to the then party leader U Shwe Mann, who was purged from the party leadership by Thein Sein in 2015 during a midnight raid at the organization’s headquarters in Naypyitaw. Former Union Parliament Speaker Thura Shwe Mann established a good working relationship with Suu Kyi since she entered Parliament in 2012.

T Khun Myat’s selection for the deputy speaker post in 2016 raised some eyebrows, given that he had faced allegations of involvement in the illicit narcotics trade in a series of investigative reports by the Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.).

His ties to the USDP go back to the former military government, serving as the secretary of the Kutkai Township Peace and Development Council under the junta. While he was serving as legal director at the Attorney General’s Office from 1990 to 2010, he concurrently served as leader of a local paramilitary force in Kutkai Township under the command of the Myanmar Army’s Northeastern Command. He also took part in the constitutional drafting commission in 2007.

He was secretary of the Kutkai Township Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and an executive of the northern Shan State chapter of the USDP that succeeded it.