Suu Kyi Vows Transparency With Candidates’ Asset Disclosures

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 20 June 2015

RANGOON — Aung San Suu Kyi said Saturday that every member of her National League for Democracy (NLD) who wishes to contest in Burma’s upcoming general election will have to declare their assets, as the party seeks to exercise transparency in the highly anticipated vote.

In a speech opening the NLD’s executive committee meeting over the weekend in Rangoon, the opposition leader said her party would finalize its candidate list after deciding whether or not to compete in the November election.

Senior NLD members have repeatedly sent mixed messages on the party’s intentions vis-à-vis joining the election, which democracy advocates hope will be Burma’s first free and fair nationwide vote in 25 years.

Suu Kyi said NLD candidates would need to submit their movable and immovable assets, as well as those of their spouses’ and any similar wealth that might be under their children’s names. The disclosures will include bank account information and business interests, she said.

Prospective candidates will also be required to make a pledge to collaborate with the party if it feels further investigation into a candidate’s wealth is needed.

“We just want to show that the NLD has transparency. If they can’t reveal their assets, how can people rely on them?” the 70-year-old democracy icon told the 112 senior members of her party gathered for the meeting.

“We will do this because people who are going to work for the country have to be free from corruption. I want to know that a candidate is not interested in the good of themselves and their families but only for the country,” Suu Kyi said.

“We will select our candidates [based on] to what extent they can work for the interests of the country in the long term. We have to think about not only Election Day, but beyond that day, to make Burma flourish.”

Suu Kyi also emphasized that the country’s stability is important before the elections, echoing a mantra of President Thein Sein in recent months, while seeming to warn that “instability” should not be used as a crutch to justify postponing the poll.

“Let me warn you, including the people and our party members, please don’t try to derail the elections by reasoning that there is instability,” she said.

“We want stability after the elections to allow our people’s hopes to materialize.”

The NLD’s executive committee meeting will wrap up on Sunday.

The 2015 general election is expected in early November and will pit the NLD—if it ultimately decides to contest—against more than 80 parties in races for the Union Parliament and 14 regional legislatures. The NLD is likely to face its stiffest competition from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), as well as parties representing the interests of ethnic minorities in regions where they represent large constituencies.