Myanmar’s junta announced on Tuesday that 217 officials and lawmakers of the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government have been granted political pensions.
The 217 former NLD officials and lawmakers who attained official positions at the Union, State or Region level between 2016 and 2021 will be eligible to share the 4.04 billion kyats gratuity with 274 other officials and lawmakers from other political parties, including 98 from the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party, according to the announcement issued by the military regime at 8pm on Tuesday.
However, the 217 former NLD officials and lawmakers make up less than 25 per cent of the NLD members who took office following the NLD’s landslide victory in the 2015 general election.
NLD members who are the subject of arrest warrants for participating in the anti-coup movement have expressed their doubts over the veracity of the junta’s statement. They pointed out that most of the NLD’s former officials and lawmakers are now in hiding or are being detained by the regime.
Following last year’s coup, the junta arrested the NLD’s senior figures including party leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as many top officials and lawmakers who served in the NLD government. The regime has also annulled the 2020 general election result, which the NLD won with a huge majority.
Since then, the junta has stepped up its efforts to destroy Myanmar’s most popular political party with lawsuits, arrests and killings of NLD members. One ousted NLD lawmaker, Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw, was executed by the regime in July.
At least 38 NLD members have been killed by junta forces since the coup, while over 700 party members, including 98 former lawmakers, are still being detained, according to the party’s central working committee.
Daw Myat Thida Htun, an NLD MP elected at both the 2015 and 2020 general elections who is also a member of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, said that the numbers stated by the junta are impossible to believe as so many former NLD officials and lawmakers have joined the people in the revolution against the Myanmar military.
She added that she had heard of a few party members who have been forced to sign confessions stating that they won’t participate in anti-regime activities, and that perhaps they would apply for the pension. Daw Myat Thida Htun said that they would number far fewer than the 217 NLD members the junta says are eligible for the gratuity.
U Bo Bo Oo, an NLD lawmaker who won a seat in the lower house at both the 2015 and 2020 general elections and is now in hiding, said the announcement of the pension is a regime attempt to divide democratic forces in the country.
“We don’t know who has applied [for the pension] or whether the number of people quoted is real or not. Even if there are those from our party who have applied for the junta’s pension, they would be traitors of the people and would face action from the party for doing so,” he said.
Under the laws relating to emoluments, allowances and insignia for lawmakers and officials of executive and government bodies, eligible persons are afforded a one-off pension payment based in part on their monthly salary. Under the law, the pension for Union-level MPs amounts to 5 million kyats (US$1,700) and 2.5 million kyats (US$850) for outgoing state and region lawmakers.
The laws were passed by the previous military regime, the State Peace and Development Council, in 2011.