USDP Questions State Information Security

By Htun Htun 23 January 2017

RANGOON — Citing October attacks on police outposts in Arakan State, U Than Htay, chairman of opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), said in talks on Monday in Rangoon that the security of state information is at risk.

USDP organized a discusion on state security and rule of law on Monday in the commercial capital, which was joined by representatives of around 10 political parties including the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), and the National Unity Party (NUP), the National Democratic Force (NDF) and ethnic Karen parties.

The USDP chairman indirectly criticized the new NLD-led government for not summoning a meeting of National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) despite attacks on police outposts in October in Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township.

The NDSC is an 11-member executive body responsible for security and defense affairs in Burma. The council includes the President, two vice presidents, speakers of the Upper and Lower Parliament houses, the army’s commander in chief and deputy commander in chief, and the ministers of foreign affairs, defense, home, and border affairs.

The new government has not yet summoned a full-member NDSC meeting, though Burma President U Htin Kyaw, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing did meet in the aftermath of the Maungdaw attacks.

“I want members of the public to be aware that information security is critically important for the country. Because of the breach of security, it has now become to difficult to differentiate between good guys and bad guys. When this is coupled with economic decline, there have been record high rates of crimes, which are the remarkable changes,” said U Than Htay.

He also criticized the revoking of the Emergency Provisions Act, and provisions in the ward and village-tract administration law that require citizens to report overnight guests to authorities.

“Laws were amended and annulled by the decision of the Parliament. There may be different views. I think the abolishment of the overnight guest registration that allows [authorities] to visit houses at night will provide better security for inidivdual citizens,” said Dr Soe Win Oo, vice-chairman of NLD’s Rangoon chapter.

Some of the attendees stressed the need to form a new agency for national security despite the fact that there are a number of intelligence agencies like Office of the Military Security Affairs of Burma Army, and other agencies like the Bureau of Special Investigation under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Technical team leader for the Joint Monitoring Committee of the nationwide ceasefire agreement Dr. Min Zaw Oo, who discussed the topic of national security and the democratic transition, said: “What we mainly need is a national security policy that the government, army and the Parliament can agree on. If we have that policy, we should have a national security strategy.”

Dr. Soe Win Oo of NLD said he was happy with the recommendations made at the discussion including the formation of a new national intelligence agency.

Recommendations regarding the national security of Burma would be submitted to the government, according to the USDP central executive committee.