National League for Democracy members in Mandalay have expressed renewed concern about the organisation of the party’s national assembly, saying it casts doubt on the future of the party.
The holding of ward, village and township assemblies ahead of the national meeting has been controversial in a number of regions, with members resigning en masse in Pathein because they believed the process was “undemocratic”.
In Mandalay, the conflict has focused mostly on Pyigyitagun township, although members in other townships told The Myanmar Times last week the problems were widespread.
One member from Maha Aung Myay township’s Maha Nwe Sin ward, who asked not to be named, said that the assembly commissions in most Mandalay townships had not followed the proper procedures.
“There has been no proper information campaign for ward assemblies yet in our area. Conflicts between old and new members, as well as new and other new members, are clear,” the member, who is a member of the party’s district-level committee, said on Thursday, November 22.
“Frankly speaking there are many problems and different colours in most of the places so although we have got a good leader (Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) we have to worry about the future of the leadership. I feel really sorry about that.”
He said that while the party’s leadership maintains those selected for the commissions are not being appointed to any permanent posts, their temporary time in authority will give them “great chances” to cement their place in the party leadership.
“Being on the commission is temporary but to build the assembly committee, the commission is the basic foundation. If someone couldn’t get a chance to participate in the commission, they will quickly disappear from the scene, even if they’ve sacrificed years for the party. The theme of democracy is plurality but if there are more people with bad, undemocratic attitudes joining the party, I am afraid for its future,” he added.
He said even though he holds a relatively high district-level official he is still considering whether to compete in the ward assembly because he anticipates he will face personal attacks from other members.
Meanwhile, an NLD member from Chan Mya Thar Si township said he had basically severed ties with the party since the by-elections.
“Fighting for roles and making factions has made me upset. There were also funding problems among members in our township after the by-election. Currently I am working more for the 88 Generation,” said Ko Thant Sin.
Members from Pyigyitagun township, who have been outspoken about perceived unfairness over the national assembly, said they plan to act as a watchdog on the ward-level assemblies, which party officials have said will be completed by the end of the month.
“We will go round to the wards when the assemblies are held. If we see unfairness and undemocratic ways on that day, we will first inform officials in wards and the township. If they don’t listen to our complaint, we will continue to inform the headquarters,” said NLD member U Ko Ko Aung from Zamyinzwe ward.
NLD officials at the township and regional level have defended themselves against allegations of impropriety at the ward level by saying that the posts are only for the assembly and members chosen to arrange the assemblies were selected on the basis of ability and suitability.
Conceding that there may have been some “unfair issues” in the selection process, U Myo Naing, secretary of the assembly commission for Mandalay Region, said party officials wanted to cooperate with unhappy members provided they were being constructive and did not show aggression.
“Instead of blaming the commission process [members] should try to focus on winning the ward assembly,” he told The Myanmar Times in an earlier interview.
However, U Ko Ko Aung said that unhappy members had tried “many times” to discuss the problems with NLD officials at the regional and township level but were never given the chance.
“If they really want to discuss and cooperate with members opposed to the current assembly process then we welcome that. We don’t hold any grudge as we are all working for the good of the people,” he said.