Burma

MP for Military-Proxy USDP Supports Myanmar Nationalists With Apartment, Funding

By Htun Htun 27 February 2020

YANGON—A Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) official is now providing an apartment for Myanmar nationalists to use as an office.

U Maung Myint, a Lower House lawmaker for Mingin Township who was recently promoted to the central executive committee of the USDP, handed over an apartment in Yangon to a group of nationalists in a meeting on Saturday.

“Our party is a nationalist party. I am a defender of national interests. Nationalist organizations also work for national interests. So you just think to yourselves if this is in line with the party’s policy or not,” U Maung Myint told The Irrawaddy. “It is not strange that nationalists provide support for organizations that work for national interests.”

The apartment, called the “The Rendezvous of Patriots,” is located on 154th Street. The lawmaker has given the apartment to a group that includes prominent nationalist Daw Khin Waing Kyi.

“The apartment is no-strings-attached. It was not given in exchange for vote, it was presented in good faith,” she told The Irrawaddy. “I welcome and am happy that [U Maung Myint] has helped meet the needs of nationalists.”

In an interview with Myanmar Open Voice on Feb. 22, U Maung Myint said that he arranged the apartment at the request of some nationalists, adding that the cooperation between nationalist organizations and a party dedicated to national interests can strengthen both their positions.

“The apartment was given by a businessman, but it is not like a transfer of ownership. They can use the apartment as long as they engage in nationalist activities,” said U Maung Myint. “I did not arrange the apartment just because the election is drawing near.”

U Maung Myint (sitting, left) and Daw Khin Waing Kyi (sitting, right) at the handover of the apartment on Feb. 22 in Yangon. / Zaw Win / The Irrawaddy

According to the lawmaker, the apartment is equipped with wifi and utilities will be paid. He also gave the group 300,000 kyats (US$208) at Saturday’s meeting to cover expenses.

The military proxy USDP has always positioned itself as a protector of race and religion. After the 2010 general election, the USDP-led government adopted a package of four controversial race and religion laws.

The now-banned Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, better known by the Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, applauded the USDP’s laws as a success for nationalism.

In May 2017, the state-backed cleric organization Ma Ha Na declared that Ma Ba Tha was an unlawful organization, though the group subsequently changed its name to the Buddha Dhamma Charity Foundation. More nationalist groups such as Nationalists Without Borders and the Myanmar Nationalist Organization (MNO) have emerged more recently.

The MNO was formed earlier this month and organized a protest march and talks in front of Yangon City Hall on Feb. 9 in opposition to what they call threats to race, religion and sovereignty.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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