Burma’s ruling party the National League for Democracy (NLD) on Wednesday launched an internal investigation from Naypyidaw into the controversial purge of senior leaders in the Shan State chapter of the NLD.
U Win Htein, an NLD central executive committee (CEC) member and leading party figure, expelled the NLD Taunggyi District chairperson U Tin Maung Toe in a verbal order and demoted Shan State NLD chairperson Daw Khin Moe Moe and two others during his visit to Shan State in September.
The expelled and demoted members subsequently filed an appeal, prompting the CEC to launch an internal investigation.
NLD auxiliary CEC member U Kyaw Ho, a practicing lawyer, heads the three-member party tribunal charged with the investigation, serving alongside Mandalay Division NLD chairperson U Tin Htut Oo and CEC member Daw Lei Lei.
“Today, the tribunal started hearings. But U Win Htein couldn’t come because he is on a trip. We will examine the evidence at the next session,” U Kyaw Ho told the media.
U Win Htein has been on a tour of local NLD offices in Chin State.
Daw Khin Moe Moe told reporters that she suggested that the tribunal question U Win Htein when she originally filed the appeal. The tribunal assented and plans to question U Win Htein, alongside witnesses, on Oct. 24-25.
“I explained to [tribunal] head U Kyaw Ho that it wouldn’t be fair if we were questioned before U Win Htein. U Win Htein has to present an official justification [for having expelled the members] in front of the tribunal, and then we can defend it,” said Daw Khin Moe Moe.
U Win Htein has claimed he has evidence that Daw Khin Moe Moe told locals to vote for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy [with whom the NLD refused an electoral alliance] in the 2015 general election and failed to campaign for the NLD in Shan State.
U Tin Maung Toe, the Taunggyi District NLD chairperson, told the media: “I have been in this party since 1988 [when it was founded]. We understand all the rules and regulations of the party. I have never heard of a ‘verbal’ dismissal. The party is currently the ruling party and also formed the government. So, I would like for it to go by the rules. I want it to become a model party for the country.”
The two other Shan State NLD members to have faced demotion, Daw Mee Mee and Daw Yumi Zaw, were also accused of failing to campaign for the NLD in the lead-up to the 2015 election. Their demotions will be investigated as a single case. U Tin Maung Toe’s expulsion and Daw Khin Moe Moe’s demotion will each be considered as separate cases.
“When [U Win Htein] came to Shan State, I wrote a Facebook post that he considered insulting towards him,” U Tin Maung Toe told the media, to explain his demotion, saying he would defend his case “with evidence.”
Though Daw Khin Moe Moe was made to forfeit her position as NLD Shan State chairperson, she remains a central committee member.
“We called for the formation of an investigation commission to punish whoever is guilty,” Daw Khin Moe Moe told the media.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko