Four Eights People’s Party to Change Name After Renewed Public Outcry

By Zarni Mann 26 June 2018

MANDALAY — Following public criticism and an order from the Union Election Commission (UEC), the Four Eights People’s Party will announce a new name in early July.

“We will publicly announce the new name after the party’s conference on July 8 in Mandalay,” U Ye Naing Aung, a party founder and spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

The UEC reportedly ordered the party to change its name, logo and flag after more than 200 people sent objections to the name following the registration process in May.

The name refers to the nationwide pro-democracy uprising against the Ne Win dictatorship that began, led by students, in Yangon on Aug. 8, 1988. The protests came to an end the following month in a bloody military crackdown. The nation’s current de facto leader, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, first came to national prominence during the uprising.

“We will make sure that our party name and logo include no signs or hints of the 1988 uprising,” said U Ye Naing Aung.

The new name of the party will be announced on July 8 after the party’s conference.

When U Ko Ko Gyi and other prominent former student activists introduced the party to the public in December last year, the Four Eights Party was criticized for its perceived appropriation of a national legacy.

Critics said that as a signifier of the date on which the protests began, “8888” should not be used by a particular political party, for it represents a historical moment in the nation’s history of resistance to dictatorship.

In March, amid the criticism and challenges, the party announced a change in its name from “Four Eights” to the “Four Eights People’s Party”; it began the registration process under that name at the UEC on May 2.

The UEC announced the party’s new name in a state-run newspaper in early June, but renewed public objections forced the party to change the name again.

The party has announced that U Ko Ko Gyi will be its chairman and U Ye Naing Aung the vice chairman. However, it has yet to produce a list of central committee members.