Suu Kyi warns new MPs to be above board

NLD leader calls for unity in Myanmar party and says poor conduct will not be tolerated

A new lawmaker said Ms Suu Kyi cautioned the NLD against "betraying the people" who voted for the party at the polls.
A new lawmaker said Ms Suu Kyi cautioned the NLD against "betraying the people" who voted for the party at the polls.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

YANGON • Ms Aung San Suu Kyi has warned newly minted Members of Parliament she will not tolerate poor discipline or wrongdoing, party members said yesterday, as Myanmar's democracy champion began marshalling her opposition for government amid sky-high expectations.

Ms 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. She 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 policymaking as well as deliver on the party's change narrative.

NLD lawmakers said yesterday that Ms 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 Ms 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 Ms 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," Mr Tun Myint, elected to the Lower House from Bahan township in Yangon, told Agence France-Presse.

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.

The government will not be formed until next year. 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.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2015, with the headline 'Suu Kyi warns new MPs to be above board'. Print Edition | Subscribe