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NUP, the party that survived

Phyu Phyu Nyunt is running for a Rangoon Division assembly seat for the National Unity Party, the successor to Gen. Ne Win’s old Burma Socialist Programme Party that has been around since 1990.

Contesting the township of Mingalar Taung Nyunt, Phyu Phyu Nyunt previously worked in the Ministry of Cooperatives and as a lawyer. Way back in 1977, the now 61-year-old candidate joined the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) of former strongman Ne Win. The BSPP was replaced by the NUP ahead of the 1990 elections, in which it then suffered a crushing defeat by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). The election result was ignored by the army.

In the 1990s, the junta made the Union Solidarity and Development Association its main political vehicle, then becoming the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in 2010. Yet, the NUP is still around, it controls a total of 64 parliament seats won in the flawed 2010 polls and often supports the USDP. The party has 774 candidates contesting in this year’s elections and has hundreds of party offices across Burma.

Phyu Phyu Nyunt spoke with Myanmar Now reporter Ei Cherry Aung about her party’s campaign and the situation in her constituency, as well as her proposal to curb online vice and increase punishments for crime.


Question: Why did you decide to run in the elections?

Answer: Senior members of our party wanted me to contest in the 8 November election and I also have an aspiration to run. So I chose Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township constituency; I chose constituency 2 to improve the local situation.

This township is my good luck place. I started my professional career as a lawyer here. I want to develop this area like Tamwe Township, where for example flooding of streets has successfully been prevented in the rainy season. Our township has many workers with hard living conditions. I would like to promote their social situation and improve security. If I am elected in the upcoming elections, I will ask for empty land from the government to develop low-cost houses in this area.


Q: What are some of the main problems in this constituency?

A: Floods happen in many places in my constituency [in rainy season]. Fire engines cannot enter some narrow roads in slum areas. If I were elected, I would want to develop apartment blocks for the squatters. Also, underage rape cases have increased as parents who are labourers cannot tend to their children closely. Parents work outside and leave their children at home. In Satsan Ward, some women spend their time at teashops to talk about gambling on the two- or three-digit illegal lottery. Then they become trapped in a debt circle, which leads them to commit crimes.


Q: What social welfare measures has your party initiated in parliament?

A: Lower House MP J. Yaw Hu, from our National Unity Party, is the first MP to ask for a halt of the Myitsone dam project in Kachin State. Our party also objected to the Dagon City real estate project.


Q: Do you expect more NUP candidates will be elected on 8 November?

A: We hope so. Sixty-four candidates won in the 2010 general elections. We have 744 candidates in the 8 November elections and we expect half of them will win seats.


Q: What challenges have you experienced during your campaign?

A: I have found that people dislike our party since it is seen as a successor to the Burma Socialist Programme Party. They do not want to become a member of our party. But those who understand our party like us. Sometimes, some people are surprised that our party has survived and they ask me about it during the campaign. But people are mostly friendly and help us when we post our party signboards.


Q: What do you think of the fact that there have been some many errors in the voter registration lists of the Union Election Commission [UEC]?

A: The UEC has to collect the data on the voter lists gathered by the ward-level officials. So, the UEC would not know the on-ground situation, which is directly concerned with the election commissions in respective wards, rather than a central level responsibility.


Q: If you were elected lawmaker, what laws would you want to introduce or amend?

A: As there is an increase in underage rape cases, punishments for this crime should be maximised up to lifetime imprisonment. Robbery cases should be punished seriously too. Those who commit these crimes should not get amnesty, as most commit these cases again after they are released.


Q: You claim rape crimes have increased, what makes you say that?

A: Mobile phones and pornographic movies are the root causes of rape crimes. Alcohol contributes to a certain extent to these cases. Some potential criminals also lure children. Parents should take care of their children so they don’t fall victim to such crimes. The government should control sharing pornography through mobile phones; such potential crimes on social media should be controlled. The increased use of mobile phones have become a major threat to the security of our children.


This article was republished courtesy of Myanmar Now


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