Daw Nyo Nyo Thinn
‘I derive great satisfaction from my role’
Yangon Region parliamentarian Dr Nyo Nyo Thinn was often in the headlines in 2014, over comments ranging from corruption to inadequate flood control measures. The outspoken MP, who studied and taught law in Japan, represents constituency two in Bahan Township as an independent. She sat down with Mizzima's Juliet Shwegaung for an interview.
What kind of a year did you have in in 2014?
I really had to struggle in 2014, especially after the middle of the year when I began to draw attention to the weak points of the Yangon Region parliament. A big issue in 2014 was the manoeuvering by the Yangon Region government to restrict the work of the parliament. The regional government was openly disapproving of moves to form parliamentary committees. I often clashed with members of the regional government over this issue.
Provide an example of a weakness in the regional parliament.
The Yangon Region parliament approved an annual budget for the Yangon government of K400 billion [about US$388 million]. But it has not been possible to check whether the work was done or the budget spent wisely because there is no parliamentary affairs committee. When I urged the creation of a parliamentary committee to oversee the management of the budget I was criticised by the regional government.
Yangon regional MPs are not allowed to ask questions about controversial issues in parliament. Do you think this will change in 2015?
There will be no change to the situation in 2015. I am preparing to be harassed and threatened over my views on transparency and accountability again this year. I have already received threats that I am not yet ready to disclose. Despite needing to be aware about my personal safety, I derive great satisfaction from my role. I have a duty of responsibility to my constituents and I will not let them down.
Has your campaign against corruption yielded any results?
I have received many letters complaining about corruption. We have a lot of evidence. However, in the interests of not wanting to disrupt the relationship between the regional parliament and government there is much I have not done because I thought the time was not right. It is significant that although attention was drawn to many suspected cases of corruption during 2104 the government did not take action in a single case. The Yangon Region government is not taking effective action to prevent corruption.
Was the publicity you received from speaking out expected?
It was never expected. I do not have a political party background and I do not regularly use social media. However, I did perform well in a popularity poll on the BBC Burmese service on which I was placed ninth. This expression of support from the public gave me great encouragement. It has been support such as this that has given me the strength to stand for the people in 2014.
Do you plan to seek election to the Union parliament?
No. I enjoy being a member of the Yangon regional parliament because it means I can be near my constituents. I believe that politicians should stay close to the people they represent. As a regional MP I can respond instantly to the need of the people.
What are your weak points?
I am weak at lobbying. I should lobby the members of parties other than the Union Solidarity and Development Party. I am weak at telling the parties what questions I plan to raise in parliament or lobbying them to give me support.
[Juliet Shwe Gaung]