Rakhine party pledges to take up opposition mantle
AN ethnic minority party is seeking to position itself as the democratic opposition to the ruling National League for Democracy in parliament. The Arakan National Party, the most successful ethnic party in last November’s election in terms of seats won, says it will criticise the government and the NLD, both in parliament and outside.
Pyithu Hluttaw MP U Pe Than (ANP; Myebon) said his party, which holds 12 seats in the lower house and 23 seats in the Rakhine State legislature, will speak up about the government’s weaknesses because no other party is doing so.
The NLD wiped out the formerly ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, winning large majorities last November in both houses of parliament and nearly all states and regions. In many parts of the country, the only significant opposition resides with the 25 percent of seats allocated under the constitution to the military.
“I will point out the weakness of the government because the number of MPs in opposition to the government is Arakan National Party MP rather small,” U Pe Than told Times yesterday.
Before the election, opposition led The Myanmar by the NLD to the USDP was active and vocal. But few voices are being raised against the government now, he said.
“NLD lawmakers don’t criticise the NLD government and they are not allowed to talk to the media. Our party will point out the weaknesses of the government as much as we can,” U Pe Than said. “The better the opposition, the better the government.”
A major ANP objective is to work for the development of Rakhine State, he said, adding that the party’s MPs would hold separate meetings to discuss conditions in the state and the country as a whole.
“Our MPs will meet in collaboration with other ethnic peoples to point out the weakness of the government,” he said.
A lack of infrastructure is one factor that has led to Rakhine State’s underdevelopment, and many young people leave the state in search of work overseas. The MP said he wanted to create more job opportunities back home.
“If there are job opportunities, our Rakhine nationals abroad will come home. We’re focusing on questions of regional development in this hluttaw session,” he said. Another goal is to reduce conflict among ethnic groups, thus strengthening security and establishing greater economic, social and inter-religious stability.
Dismissing the government’s recent 100-day project, U Pe Than said it was too short a timeframe to effect real change. “The time was too short and the legacy of bad government too long. The government will have to continue its efforts for far longer to overcome the ill effects left by the previous government,” he said.
Plunged into disarray by the scale of its defeat, and with most of its MPs turfed out of their seats, even the former ruling party has been restrained in its criticism of the NLD. Former USDP Amyotha Hluttaw MP U Nu told The Myanmar Times on August 3, “The government needs time to do what it wants to do. It can’t be rushed. We just have to wait and see.” – Translation by Thiri Min Htun
‘NLD lawmakers don’t criticise the government and they are not allowed to talk to the media.’
U Pe Than