Suu Kyi lays down law on party discipline to new Myanmar MPs

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party.PHOTO: EPA

YANGON (AFP) - Aung San Suu Kyi has warned newly minted MPs she will not tolerate poor discipline or wrongdoing, party members said Saturday, as Myanmar's democracy champion began marshalling her opposition for government amid sky-high expectations.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party took nearly 80 per cent of contested seats in the Nov 8 election, promising change after decades of corrosive and corrupt army control of the country.

But she cannot be president under the junta-scripted constitution.

Instead the party leader has vowed to rule from "above the president" - via a proxy who will be selected by the NLD-dominated legislature in the new year.

Observers say the NLD, a party of opposition for 25 years, will struggle to match the soaring hopes of a long-suffering people who crave remedies to the nation's deep economic and social problems.

New MPs will also have to learn the nuts and bolts of power and policy making as well as deliver on the party's change narrative.

On Saturday (Nov 28) NLD lawmakers said Suu Kyi used a party meeting to call for unity and warn newcomers to office that poor discipline or conduct will be punished.

"She doesn't want anyone to build a small building inside the big one," said Thet Thet Khine, an elected NLD MP in Yangon and a prominent party figure.

"Any MP who wants to build his or her personal group inside the NLD 'building' will not be accepted," she said.

Another new lawmaker said Suu Kyi cautioned the party against "betraying the people" who overwhelmingly shunned the army-backed ruling party at the polls to give the NLD control of both parliamentary houses.

"She said she will not tolerate any breach of party regulations... and she will take action under the law if MPs make a mistake," Tun Myint, elected for the lower house from Bahan township in Yangon, told AFP.

He said NLD MPs also face a 25 per cent salary cut as a gesture to the nation's poor population.

Despite public euphoria at the sweeping election win, the military retains a major stake in Myanmar's politics.

It has 25 per cent of all parliamentary seats gifted to it by a charter that it penned.

But so far it has taken the election result gracefully, pledging to ensure a smooth transition of power to the NLD.

The government will not be formed until next year, with a long transition period between elections and the handover of power.

The current parliament is due to sit until at least January.

This has raised concerns of political instability, deadlock or mischief-making by losing lawmakers.

The NLD won a similar scale landslide in 1990 polls, only to see the military annul the result and dig in for another two decades.