NLD Vice Chairman's Poor Health Threatens Party’s Prospects in Myanmar’s 2020 Election

By Htet Naing Zaw 8 November 2019

NAYPYITAW — Sources inside the National League for Democracy (NLD) say the poor health of party vice chairman and Mandalay Region Chief Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung is having a negative effect on the party’s preparations for the 2020 general election.

The ruling party vice chairman sought medical treatment in Thailand after he attended a party meeting in Yangon on Oct. 24. Mandalay Region Electricity Minister U Zarni Aung was serving as acting regional chief minister, temporarily taking over Dr. Zaw Myint Maung’s duties. It is not clear yet when he will be able to resume his duties, according to some party members.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung and President U Win Myint are widely known as the two right-hand men of de facto party leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The two were appointed to share the party’s number two spot, below party Chairwoman Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in March 2018.

As State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint are constitutionally barred from being involved in the party’s activities, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung has taken the lead on party functions.

A party member told The Irrawaddy that the vice chairman’s health condition is somewhat worrisome and would take some time to improve.

Yangon Region NLD chapter Chairman Dr. Soe Win Oo said that as a precaution, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung was being tested to check for the presence of cancer or nerve problems. He was confident the party vice chairman would get better soon but that the former political prisoner has suffered health problems due to the hardship he faced under incarceration.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung was jailed for 19 years for his political activism under the previous military regime. After his release in 2009, he became a member of the NLD Central Executive Committee.

He is also a three-time elected lawmaker, elected in the 1990 election, the 2012 by-election and the 2015 general election, always representing the NLD in constituencies in Mandalay.

During the meeting on Oct. 24, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung urged party members to work hard for an electoral victory. He told the members to enhance their capacity, hone their skill and improve their abilities to be elected in the 2020 elections.

The NLD recently named four senior members to lead the party’s election campaigns in 2020: Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, Magwe Region Chief Minister Dr. Aung Moe Nyo and NLD Central Executive Committee secretaries U Nyan Win and U Han Tha Myint.

Dr. Aung Moe Nyo is one of very few NLD chief ministers who have gained the public’s support and achieved popularity. He was promoted to third secretary of the Central Executive Committee on Oct. 29.

NLD party spokesperson Dr. Myo Nyunt said the party doesn’t have much information about the vice chairman’s medical treatment. He said Dr. Zaw Myint Maung has had a heavy workload, traveling across the country to manage the party’s functions.

Regarding the upcoming 2020 election however, the spokesperson said the party has already laid out plans for election victories in 2020 and that the leadership of the party will be organized according to the hierarchy within the party.

According to Monywa Aung Shin, a secretary with the party’s information team, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung will be back in Myanmar on Nov. 10, but it is still not clear whether he will be able to assume his duties immediately upon returning.

Translated from Burmese by San Yamin Aung