Thursday, July 27, 2017

NLD enforces ban against leaks of internal affairs documents

The ruling NLD banned its members from leaking to the press and social media criticisms among party members or against the government.

The ban was approved during the two day conference of the ruling party’s central committee, which was concluded yesterday.

The ban on the public criticisms by party members on each other or against the government was aimed at keeping the ‘family spirit’ the party has adopted since its foundation, according to U Win Htein, one of the three central executive committee members who appeared at the press conference held yesterday.

U Win Htein said, the party welcomes internal criticisms but these should not be publicized in the press or in social media, such as Facebook.

“Party members can criticize the government and the party by whatever means they like. By means of letters or through oral discourses, we allow criticisms within the party,” he said, but emphasized this must not be heard by reporters and aired on social media.

“Internal affairs must not be spoken out to media organizations or not be posted on Facebook (social media) because that is not in line with the “family spirit” that we adopt,” he said.

He also said those who do not abide by the ban would be charged in accordance with the party’s rules and regulations and sanctions would be imposed against violators.

For writing on social media, officials from NLD’s Shan state branch last year were fired by U Win Htein.

The firing of generated more controversy after the NLD Shan officials accused U Win Htein of acting on his own volition, without following the procedures.

The imposition of the ban comes while the ruling party is struggling to implement its two prioritized policies – achieving internal peace with armed ethnic organizations and economic growth – which political and economic observers said have not been very satisfactory.

The party has in parliaments, groups of whips that scrutinize the questions raised against the government by MPs, which often rejects tough questions that would embarrass ministers in the legislatures when they are asked to answer in front of military MPs.

Having whip mechanism in legislatures, the party officials often defend by citing democracies like United States and United Kingdom as examples. But this is perceived by domestic watchdogs as muzzling the MPs’, thus effectively disrupting check-and-balance between government and parliament.

For the good of the constituents, MPs can criticize government and party officials, but must be true and factual, U Win Htein told reporters.

The ruling party has still a long journey to go to achieve its goals, U Aung Kyi Nyunt – Upper House MP for Taungdwingyi township and chair of the two-day conference – said in his opening speech on Saturday.

He told the members of the central committee and chief ministers of regions and states in the meeting, not to be disdainful when working for their constituencies, while stressing the importance of unity and cooperation inside the party.

“When we were suppressed, we stood united because we had disliked the same things. But now, by nature, we have things that we like, which could make us disunited,” he said.

U Aung Kyi Nyunt also said party members could be misused to serve particular external interests while their disdainfulness would damage the party’s reputation.

In the conference, matters related to the peace process, country’s situation on economy and politics, and party’s internal affairs were discussed. It was also decided that membership fees, which was previously charged monthly, would be collected once a year.

While a growing number of armed ethnic groups have questioned the legitimacy and representation of the 37 points agreed in the second round of 21st century Panglong conference last month, the committee said it has endorsed all points agreed upon.

The party central committee has also agreed to conduct reforms in internal party committees, give occasional training on politics and hold party’s youth conference. On July 1, youth committees would hold a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw to discuss about having the party’s youth conference.

On Saturday night, a fake statement attribute to the NLD was circulated on social media, which said former speaker Thura U Shwe Mann, chairperson of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Commission for the Assessment of Legal Affairs and Special Issues, has been recruited to NLD’s central executive committee.

U Shwe Mann is a close ally of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD’s party chair.

U Nyan Win, another official at the press conference yesterday said it was a fabricated statement. The intention of those behind the fake statement was “just to create confusion among party members”, he said.