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The Myanmar Times

Four MPs sever ties with NDF

Daw San San Myint speaks at a public meeting in Thingangyun township on April 2. (Hein Latt Aung / The Myanmar Times / April 11, 2012)Daw San San Myint speaks at a public meeting in Thingangyun township on April 2. (Hein Latt Aung / The Myanmar Times / April 11, 2012)

A group of parliamentarians from the National Democratic Force announced last week they had formally broken away from the main body of the party.

The four – all from Yangon’s Thingangyun township – have formed what they call the Thingangyun National Democratic Force and said at a public meeting on April 2 they would now act independently of the NDF, which was formed to contest the 2010 election.

The groups is led by Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Thein Nyunt and also includes Amyotha Hluttaw member U Phone Myint Aung and Yangon Region Hluttaw MPs U Kyaw and Daw San San Myint.

“From today, the public should know that the two groups have separated. We are no longer formally connected with the ‘Swe-Nyein’ group at all,” said U Thein Nyunt, referring to NDF leaders Dr Than Nyein and U Khin Maung Swe.

However, he said the group had not informed the Union Election Commission of the split.

“As the Thingangyun NDF, our policies will be transparent and clean so everybody who believes this can cooperate with us. We have totally split with them. Thingangyun NDF has been established not only for Thingangyun people but for people from across the whole country,” he said.

At the press conference, the Thingangyun NDF also relayed their experiences of parliament to party members and encouraged them to speak up if they encounter corruption or favouratism, promising to take up any complaints with the respective ministers.

“We put proposals and questions into the Yangon Region Hluttaw about getting a 24-hour electricity supply, to finish building roads quickly and to get water supply in the summer. But the only response was that the questions would be relayed to the relevant official. They could not give us a clear answer,” said U Kyaw.

“There’s been no change as a result of us asking questions in the Yangon Region and this is a weak point of the situation with the new parliaments. At the next hluttaw meeting, I think we can be more effective.”

The only thing unexpected about last week’s formal split was that it did not come earlier. Shortly before the November 7 election, U Thein Nyunt was dumped as NDF vice chairman after publicly criticising the party’s other leaders for their lack of transparency over the source of the party’s funding.

However, the acrimony died down after the election, which saw the NDF win 16 seats, including eight in national legislatures.

The NDF was established by former members of the NLD after the party voted not to contest last year’s poll and was formally disbanded under election laws released in March 2010.

Keen students of Myanmar political history will appreciate the significance of U Thein Nyunt’s language. In the late 1950s, the ruling Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, established by General Aung San, split into stable and clean factions, with the former led by U Ba Swe and U Kyaw Nyein – the “Swe-Nyein” group – and the latter by U Nu.

Following the group’s announcement, NDF co-founder U Khin Maung Swe told The Myanmar Times the party was concerned that the Thingangyun group was continuing to use the NDF name.

“Although [U Thein Nyunt] said that he is not connected with the NDF, he still uses the NDF name. We don’t want to make any comment about him splitting from us but if he continues to use the NDF name we will inform the Union Election Commission and ask whether it is permitted or not,” he said on April 4. “If they dislike the NDF, they can stand as a separate group but if they want to use our name we will inform the commission.”

U Khin Maung Swe also said the party was preparing for by-elections, which are expected to be held in October or November, and would conduct a campaign trip to Chin State and Magwe Region on April 22.

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