NLD Renegade Joins New Myanmar Political Party

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 4 February 2020

YANGON—An outspoken lawmaker in the Yangon Regional Parliament, U Kyaw Zay Ya, has been appointed to the seat of second vice president for the People’s Pioneer Party (PPP) after being dismissed by the National League for Democracy (NLD) for allegedly damaging the party’s image.

U Kyaw Zay Ya told The Irrawaddy that he was appointed to the position on Saturday following a proposal by party chairwoman Daw Thet Thet Khaing after he applied for party membership on Jan. 22.

Union Parliament member Daw Thet Thet Khaing established the PPP after she resigned from the NLD in November 2019, saying she faced restrictions from the party that violated the standards of democracy and that the party tried to unjustly restrict her as an elected member of Parliament.

U Kyaw Zay Ya said that he chose the PPP because it was formed and is led by businessmen and economic experts who can boost Myanmar’s slowing economy.

”Businessmen are grumbling about the declining economy, so I will try to revive it. I will share my experience in the Hluttaw [Parliament] with the new generation of the party,” said U Kyaw Zay Ya.

U Kyaw Zay Ya, a former deputy colonel, also worked as the director of the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Company for ten years before he joined the NLD in 2013.

In 2015, U Kyaw Zay Ya was elected to the Dagon Township seat in the Yangon Regional Parliament.

He is one of a few NLD lawmakers well-known to the public for their critical views of the Yangon government’s controversial polices and performance.

The NLD dismissed U Kyaw Zay Ya on Jan. 21, reportedly without warning.

However, NLD spokesperson Dr. Myo Nyunt told local media that they dismissed him because he shared information that was only meant to be discussed within the party. The NLD didn’t elaborate about the disclosure.

U Kyaw Zay Ya told The Irrawaddy last week that the NLD’s move to revoke his party membership was likely connected to his recent comments in the Yangon parliament.

On Jan. 14, he raised questions in the parliament about the Yangon government’s spending of a 64-billion-kyat budget (US$43.6 million) that was approved for housing, as the housing project has yet to be implemented and the Yangon government was found to have misused budgets for other projects.

He also said that he had to raise the questions officially in the parliament because the Yangon Regional Chief minister had refused to answer them in earlier meetings.

Prior to his dismissal, U Kyaw Zay Ya and Daw Thet Thet Khaing were both suspended by the NLD from serving party duties in August 2018 for allegedly violating party rules.

U Kyaw Zay Ya was also demoted from secretary to an ordinary member of the Finance, Planning and Economic Committee by the regional parliament’s speaker on Jan. 30. The speaker did not give a reason for the demotion.

Before the demotion, U Kyaw Zay Ya also raised criticisms about the performance of the regional government and parliament, including its speaker, in exclusive interviews with local media.