Gandhi-inspired rapper enters politics

A prominent Burmese hip hop artist is set to join a splinter group of the opposition National Democratic Force founded by the party’s one-time leader, Thein Nyunt.

Although the name of the party is yet to be announced, Thein Nyunt told DVB that 15 people from varying walks of life are listed as founders. Among them is Yatha, a 29-year-old musician who rose to fame in 2006 and since has appeared on an MTV Exit programme on human trafficking in neighbouring Thailand.

Yatha is native to Thingangyun township, the Rangoon constituency where Thein Nyunt won a seat in the November 2010 elections and where Yatha canvassed for his new boss.

In an interview with DVB, he said that he would focus on improving Burma’s education system, which receives only around three percent of the government’s total annual spending. While opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her father, General Aung San, are predictable influence on the rapper, his admiration of non-violent resistance stretches to Gandhi and Benjamin Nehru, India’s founding father.

Yatha will join a party whose birth results from a major conflict of interest in the NDF, which ironically formed after a split in Burma’s most prominent opposition force, the National League for Democracy (NLD).

Thein Nyunt was accused by fellow leaders, notably party co-founder Khin Maung Swe, of sharing sensitive policy details with the media and accusing the party of using foreign funding, a practice that is illegal under Burmese law. Thein Nyunt responded that the party had failed to carry out a financial audit it had promised to do.

The incident led to the NDF requesting permission from the UEC to dismiss Thein Nyunt as a member. Until recently however he resided over a faction of the party known as Thingangyun NDF, nominally separate to the Central NDF.

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