More than 150 members of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) from Nattalin Township in Pegu Division renounced their membership en masse on Thursday after accusing the party broke its promises to help them settle a land dispute.
The residents from the Sanchaung, Phalanpin, Sidawgone and Damange village areas of Nattalin were in 1992 instructed by authorities to cultivate a nearby stretch of unused land, and in return were promised 1,000 acres of land to work on. After cultivation was completed, they say, they were provided with only 550 acres while the remaining 450 acres were seized by the Burmese army’s 4th Light Infantry Battalion and government district administration.
After USDP party recruiters promised to help settle the matter last year, and to assist in the securing of farming rights in the area, many villagers signed up for membership.
“We applied for party membership when recruiters came to the village at the end of 2014. We thought they would be able to help us settle the land dispute, but the regional USDP MP, when we asked him to raise our issue in parliament, now says it can not be done,” said Aye Than, a local from Sidawgone who retracted his pending USDP membership on 21 May.
Myint Naing, the party’s recruiter in Sanchaung, said he had also decided to resign, as the party was unable to deliver its promise to the villagers.
“I am resigning as I am unable to serve people in this land-grab case. We were able to help villagers in other areas solve their issues but we could not overcome this one,” said Myint Naing.
“I would like to advise everyone, from any political party – including the NLD [main opposition party National League for Democracy] or USDP – to accept their responsibility and resign from their posts if they are unable to truly serve the people,” he said.