RANGOON — The chairman of the former ruling party of Burma has claimed that much of the country is in “chaos” and in need of a “disciplined democracy” as the country prepares for by-elections on April 1.
“As people voted based on their emotions, without knowing the skill level of their representatives, many parts of the country have been left in chaos [since the 2015 general election],” said U Than Htay, chairman of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), in Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township on Sunday.
With a year having passed since the National League for Democracy (NLD) came to power, U Than Htay, who leads the USDP—a party now positioned in opposition to the ruling NLD—said people could see whether they had made the right choice and judge the performance of their representatives.
He cited the suspension of high-rise construction developments, which were later allowed to resume, and Rangoon regional government’s reforms to the city’s bus network that caused a temporary shortage of buses for which, U Than Htay says, the government was unprepared.
“I would urge people not to vote based on the party’s leader but to look into the qualifications of the candidates in your constituency and the policy and history of their party,” U Than Htay told a crowd at a sports ground in Ward 12 of Hlaing Tharyar Township.
“I assume that people understand the values of disordered democracy and disciplined democracy by now. I honestly believe that our people, who have lived in a disordered democratic society for nearly a year, now want a disciplined democracy that can assert their human rights.”
NLD secretary U Nyan Win said that U Than Htay is entitled to voice his criticisms on the campaign trail as long as they are not defamatory. He added, however, that criticizing is fruitless if it is not accompanied by ways to improve the situation.
“Talking like that doesn’t have any benefits,” U Nyan Win said, referring to U Than Htay’s criticisms. “But it would be good if they followed their criticisms up with recommendations for better changes.”
The USDP was formed in 2010 to contest the general election that year as a political vehicle for many of Burma’s former military leaders. Led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD, as well as some of the country’s ethnic parties, boycotted the election. The USDP went on to win more than 75 percent of the seats in Parliament, in a vote that was widely viewed as flawed.
In the 2015 general election, the NLD swept to power with a landslide victory, winning about 80 percent of the contested seats in the Union Parliament—the remaining seats up for grabs were claimed by the USDP and ethnic political parties. Twenty-five percent of the total seats are reserved for military MPs, under the 2008 Constitution.
In Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township, eight candidates including two independents and one from each of the Democratic Party (Myanmar), USDP, NLD, National Democratic Force, Arakan National Party and Public Contribute Students Democracy Party are contesting in the upcoming by-elections.
There are 19 vacant seats up for grabs in the Union and regional parliaments in the by-elections. The seats were left open because of ministerial appointments, which require selected lawmakers to vacate their seats, as well as three deaths.