‘Sack Aung Thein Lin’ Petition Launched

By Zarni Mann 30 July 2012

A petition to sack Aung Thein Lin, the Rangoon chairman of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), was launched on Saturday in his home constituency of South Okkalapa Township.

Aung Thein Linn has been widely criticized in Burma after he was quoted by the Chinese Southern Weekend journal lambasting President Thein Sein, Aung San Suu Kyi, the US and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Petition organizers in South Okkalapa, where he won a parliamentary seat in the 2010 general elections, told The Irrawaddy that they will submit their complaint to the Election Commission (EC) as soon as more than a thousand signatures have been collected.

“Aung Thein Lin said the Myitsone Dam project, in Kachin State, must resume and the idea to halt the project is only that of the president,” said an organizer. “He also said the people of Burma are crazy. We cannot accept that. That’s why the voters will sign the complaint and will submit it to the EC.”

According to the 2008 Constitution, at least one percent of voters from any constituency must submit a complaint in order to expel their current MP. Meanwhile, a request to stage a protest on Tuesday against Aung Thein Lin by residents of Pakokku in Magwe Division has been rejected.

“We received the rejection letter from the township police force yesterday which stated the request to protest was rejected due to four reasons,” an organizer told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

Stated reasons included: “The interview of Aung Thein Lin has not yet been verified; to prevent problems between USDP members and locals; to prevent further problems with Pakokku-based Battalion 101 as Aung Thein Lin once worked there; and the Shwe Chaung Bridge area mentioned for the protest is restricted.”

But organizers complained that these are unfair and said they will submit an appeal to divisional authorities.

When asked about the support for Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy, Aung Thein Lin is quoted the liberal Guangzhou-based journal as saying: “The [people] are crazy. OK, [Suu Kyi] is popular, but only because she is the daughter of Gen Aung San. He is our national hero.”

The now-notorious interview also quoted Aung Thein Lin saying that he opposed Thein Sein’s decision to suspend the controversial Chinese-backed Myitsone Dam project and that construction must be resumed. “I don’t trust Ban Ki-moon, nor the UN. They are all the same. All they think of is to interfere with other countries’ internal affairs,” he is also quoted as saying.

However, Aung Thein Linn now denies that he made the remarks and said that he has been misconstrued and misinterpreted by the publication. The USDP also issued a statement on Saturday that an investigation is underway and any appropriate disciplinary action would be taken according to party regulations.

The statement also mentioned that any comments made by Aung Thein Linn were his own personal opinions and did not reflect official party policy.