News / Asia

Burmese Opposition’s Tenure in Government Under Scrutiny

Daniel Schearf
Burma's opposition National League for Democracy this month (March 8-10) is holding its first party congress since winning seats in parliament last year.  Critics say the NLD, and leader Aung San Suu Kyi, need to re-focus on the party's principles after a year during which they rarely challenged the government.

Former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi's historic election raised hopes she, and the National League for Democracy, would become vocal opponents of Burma’s rights abuses.

But after siding with public opinion against the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority, and failing to condemn military aggression against Kachin rebels, critics say they are compromising their principles.

Aung San Suu Kyi is no longer a rights advocate but a politician, says deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson.

"Her last comment that she couldn't really intervene unless she was invited by the government to do so and that she was on the wrong parliamentary committee to take up these kind of issues is really the sort of excuse that one would expect from a second-rate politician rather than a Nobel Peace Prize winner," he said.
  
NLD lawmakers make up less than ten percent of the military-dominated parliament  - far too few votes to challenge the military-backed majority. But critics say they have not used their public platform to press for change.

Regional political analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak says the NLD risks conceding too much.

"Making compromises is one thing," he said. "Being co-opted is another.  And, I think she and the NLD have to be very careful not to be co-opted by the cronies, the military, including the president's team and his government.  It's a very tricky balancing act."
 
NLD spokesman Nyan Win denies the party has failed to aggressively challenge authorities. 

"The NLD has been challenging the policies of the government from the time it entered the by-election until now.  The biggest challenge is that the NLD called for amending the constitution, which is the most important thing for the current government.  The NLD is finding ways to achieve its goals," he said.
 
There have also been internal divisions in the NLD over power sharing between older and younger members.

In central Myin Gyan (myin gin) township hundreds protested at the party office over allegations the election commission rigged an internal party election.

Protest leader Ko Ko Naing says they refused to allow 7,000 younger members to vote, demonstrating that the NLD is losing its way.

"We have complained about the unfairness of the commission to the central committee authorities. They dissolved the commission.  However, they endorsed the commission's unfair election result," he said.
 
NLD spokesman Nyan Win dismisses the controversy as bickering among members.

But he says the party congress will focus on making the NLD more democratic and electing educated, younger, and female leaders.

He says it may also result in a re-evaluation of some party principles.


In a previous version VOA erroneously indentifed Ko Ko Naing and Ko Ko Aung.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid