NLD Defends Party Member Scorned for Marriage to Army Officer

By Zarni Mann 6 July 2018

SAGAING — National League for Democracy officials in Sagaing Region said they would take unspecified action against Facebook users who criticized a party member for being married to a colonel in the Myanmar Army and in the process sparked a debate that has split opinion.

Daw Myat Thiri, secretary of the NLD’s women’s committee in the region’s Sagaing Township, was attacked online after a controversial recent decision by the ruling party to reappoint Daw Su Myat Htet as the committee’s chairwoman.

At a press conference in Sagaing Township on Friday, Daw Su Myat Htet, an NLD lawmaker in the regional legislature, said she believed that one led to the other.

“She [Daw Myat Thiri] became a target for those who disagreed with me and the party’s decision not to expel me,” the lawmaker said.

“The complaints and letters against me were sent to the NLD central office, urging it to expel me from the party and to reform the women’s committee. However, the party central committee said it had no objections to my work, so I was not expelled,” Daw Su Myat Htet said.

“Since the people who disagreed [with the decision] could not attack me, they turned their heads toward Daw Myat Thiri, pointing out that she is the wife of an army official and should not be a member of the party, and saying that the people who accepted her as a party member should be punished,” she added.

Disagreement over the composition of the local women’s committee has split the township’s NLD office in two and sparked public debate about Daw Myat Thiri’s fitness as a party member.

At the press conference, party officials said photos of Daw Myat Thiri and her husband were spread on Facebook by recently created accounts with anonymous owners believed to be fellow NLD members.

“We know who they are, but we don’t have sufficient data to prove it,” Daw Su Myat Htet said.

The NLD’s Sagaing Region rules and regulations committee, however, said it would continue investigating to gather the evidence it needs to discipline the owners in line with party rules.

“Our party’s policy is to restore unity if something like this happens. If it goes beyond the policy, we will have to take action against those who defamed the party and destroyed its unity,” said U Bar Bar, the region’s NLD rules and regulations committee chairman.

He also explained that the NLD placed no restrictions on members’ backgrounds or family relations.

“We have no restrictions on a person’s personal background. We have no restrictions against army officials or army staff or their family being party members,” U Bar Bar said. “The appointment of Daw Myat Thiri as a secretary of the women’s committee for Sagaing Township was done in accordance with the party’s rules, regulations and policies.”

He said the party would not fall for attempts to sabotage its efforts to foster a working relationship with the military, which kept the NLD out of power for decades and still wields considerable control over the government.

“Since our leader, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been leading us on the road to peace and reconciliation, there are some people who do not want that and intentionally try to block peace and reconciliation,” U Bar Bar said. “So they try to stir up problems like this.”

After the press conference, Daw Myat Thiri declined to answer questions about her husband but said she would remain an NLD member.

“These are personal matters and I do not want to comment on them,” she said of her husband. “However, I will continue to work for the NLD even though there are challenges because I believe in the leadership of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her way toward peace and reconciliation for the country. I’m proud of what I’m doing.”