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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs