NLD Members Urge Party to Rethink Structure and Strategy

By Moe Myint 13 November 2016

RANGOON — Several attendees at a central committee (CC) meeting convened by the National League for Democracy (NLD) urged the party’s board to reorganize the township-, district-, and state-level working committees that had been terminated after the 2015 general election and to discipline unruly party members, sources told The Irrawaddy.

The conference, which took place at party headquarters in Rangoon’s Bahan Township on Saturday, marks as the first gathering of the NLD’s central committee, which includes 110 members from across the country. Attendees were allowed to submit proposals, questions, and recommendations, with 10 minutes allotted to party leaders from each state and division to address specific concerns, according to the meeting’s agenda.

The Irrawaddy had a short conversation with the representatives from Kachin, Karenni, and Arakan States and from Taninthari Division during a lunch break on Saturday.

U Mya Thein, chairman of the NLD in Kachin State, said that some central committee members questioned whether the party’s top leaders ought to take action against members who had allegedly violated rules, but the authority team did not immediately respond.

In October, the NLD’s complaint-handling authority Dr. Myo Nyunt disclosed that they had received about 40 letters of complaint against NLD lawmakers and had forwarded them to the central executive committee (CEC) for disciplinary action, if supposed offenders were found to be guilty. But as of November it appeared that complaints had yet to be addressed.

As a result, U Mya Thein said, some attendees called for the creation of working committees  for funding, research, and ethnic affairs at the township, district, and state levels in order to smooth out the efficiency of the party’s working process.

U Tin Myint, NLD leader for Karenni State’s Loikaw Township, highlighted some of the key challenges facing the state during the meeting. This included illegal logging, unresolved land confiscation disputes throughout the state, and a lack of collaboration between elected NLD government officials and those officials still faithful to Burma’s old government.

“The [current NLD] administration is quite weak on problem-solving [in Karenni State],” U Tin Myint said.

Tananthari Division Chief Minister Dr. Lae Lae Maw echoed these sentiments, pointing out that this lack of cooperation between the old and new guard has resulted in some matters being unnecessarily delayed when it comes to implementation. She added that some appointed ministers have been incapable of carrying out their duties because the government has decreased the size of some ministries, while others have been combined into one.

Asked about the level of ministerial representation from Tanintharyi Division, Dr. Lae Lae Maw said that she had made a case to increase the number.

Arakan State’s NLD representative U Min Aung said to The Irrawaddy that the local government in the Muslim-majority part of the state has primarily been focused on addressing the aftermath of attacks in early October that left nine border guard police officers in Maungdaw and Rathaedaung Townships dead, as well as on preparing for the coming by-election.

Some meeting participants, who asked not to be named, also mentioned that many chief ministers and house speakers—from every state and every division—were recently promoted from the central committee to the central executive committee, although such promotions breach the party’s rules.

“We CC members are very unhappy with this. We asked for an explanation, but [the CEC] provided no answer,” The Irrawaddy was told.

Several journalists waited near the NLD headquarters in Bahan Township from morning until the meeting ended at 5pm to ask about meeting outcomes, but no press conference was held immediately following the meeting’s conclusion.