NLD Used RCSS Leader’s Face on Campaign Material Without Permission, Group Says

By Zarni Mann 2 November 2018

MANDALAY—Campaign pamphlets appearing to suggest that the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) endorses the National League for Democracy (NLD)’s by-election candidate in Laihka Township were distributed without the ethnic group’s knowledge, it said in a statement on Thursday.

The pamphlets supporting NLD candidate Sai Htun Aung Lay’s election bid in Laihka
constituency carry a picture of State Counselor (and NLD leader) Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi and RCSS Chairman General Yawd Serk posing for a photo together.

The RCSS said in a statement issued on Thursday that it has no relationship with the NLD or involvement in the by-election.

“The pamphlets with the photo of our chief could lead to a misunderstanding or could put pressures on voters. We do not want to see such a situation, so we issued this announcement to assure voters that the RCSS has nothing to do with the by-election and has no business with the NLD’s by-election campaigns,” Lieutenant-Colonel Sai Oo, a spokesperson for the RCSS, told The Irrawaddy on Friday.

NLD candidate Sai Htun Aung Lay is competing against representatives of ethnic Shan parties for a seat in the Lower House for Laihka constituency.

He will vie for the seat against Sai Shwe Seing of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) and Sai Okkar of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) party on Nov. 3.

“The SNLD and SNDP are also contesting the seat, but they did not distribute such propaganda. We are afraid the voters will be confused and misinterpret the campaign pamphlets of the NLD and misunderstand the [position of the] RCSS,” Lt-Col. Sai Oo said.

“Moreover, the RCSS has a good relationship with all political parties, not only with the NLD. We do not want political parties to use us as a propaganda tool for the by-election, which could create misunderstandings. That’s why we made this announcement,” he added.

In Shan State, the SNLD and SNDP receive more support from locals than does the NLD; the same is true of ethnic parties in other ethnic areas such as Chin, Rakhine and Kachin states.

An NLD spokesperson told The Irrawaddy that the use of the photos of the RCSS chief and the state counselor had no special intention other than to show solidarity with ethnic people.

“It is just to show that our party has a strong relationship with the ethnic people, and also works for ethnic people. During the by-election campaign, some have criticized the NLD as a Burmese party which has no interest in ethnic matters,” explained the spokesman, U Myo Nyunt.

“We have no intention other than to show our solidarity with the ethnic people,” he said.