Uncertainty Surrounds 8888 Party Name

By Kyaw Myo 18 June 2018

YANGON — U Ko Ko Gyi, chairman of the organizing committee for the formation of the Four Eights People’s Party, said that he hoped the Union Election Commission (UEC) would give him a fair answer regarding the party’s name following surrounding controversy.

After the UEC announced on May 5 the proposed registration of the Four Eights People’s Party, more than 200 people filed objections regarding the party’s name.

The commission then ordered the party organizers to change the name, logo and party flag.

“I asked if the commission would reconsider its order if tens of thousands of people support the party name, since it said it rejected the name because of the objection of some 200 people,” U Ko Ko Gyi told the press on Friday about his meeting with UEC officials the previous day.

“But they said that they would not reconsider because it was a decision made by a plenary meeting of the commission,” he added.

Early last year, U Ko Ko Gyi and his colleagues—who were among the leading members of the student-led, pro-democracy 8888 Uprising in August 1988—started laying the groundwork for setting up the Four Eights Party.

When the party founders tried to register the organization with the election commission in December, they drew criticism from those who see the designation 8888 as a symbol of the struggle for democracy, and as such, as the property of the entire country. These critics say 8888 should not be available for use by a particular party.

The organizers were accused of trying to appropriate the imagery and symbols of the historic movement.

Then, party organizers changed the name to the Four Eights People’s Party, and the UEC gave the green light for the party’s registration under the proposed name in April. But again, the name drew criticism.

U Ko Ko Gyi doubts that the UEC has verified that those who raised objections hold citizenship ID cards and live where they stated in their objection letters.

The politician earlier said the party’s original name was decided upon only after yearlong consultations with multiple stakeholders. He has defended that most of the party’s founding members were actively involved in the nationwide democracy movement, and therefore, the party deserves its name.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.