Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi launched her party’s first Youth Congress over the weekend in Rangoon by appealing to prospective youth members to be true to the party’s values, but advised them to leave the National League for Democracy (NLD) if they had joined up for opportunistic reasons.
Held over the weekend in Rangoon’s Royal Rose Hall, the NLD Youth Congress was convened with more than 150 youth representatives from across the country – the first time in 20 years that the NLD has held such an event. During the conference, the NLD appointed members aged between 16 to 35 into youth leadership positions throughout the country, with about 4,500 youth leaders at a township level, some 700 at a district level, and more than 200 at an administrative or regional level.
Despite these large numbers of youth support, Suu Kyi urged the party’s youth members to be true and examine their intentions for joining the party.
“Some are not very clear about why they joined the NLD — whether if it is because they are interested in politics and believe in our policies, or if it is just for fun, or if they were persuaded by their friends. Perhaps it’s because they think they can use the NLD as a stepping stone for their political career,” the opposition leader said during a speech.
“Some of you may have joined the NLD with the best of intentions and some of you, maybe not. But if you know yourself that you have jointed the party out of personal interests, I would like to frankly suggest to you that it would be best if you quit early,” she said.
Maung Maung Ohn, a chairperson of the NLD Youth Congress organising committee, said that the youth members will be key in spreading the party’s message and policies.
“We convened the NLD Youth Congress with the objective of creating future leaders to work for the implementation of NLD’s policies, for future work and regional development to proceed with more momentum,” he said.
While the NLD enjoys broad popular support – having won the 1990 elections with an overwhelming majority – the party is often plagued with problems of infighting. Former members who have been expelled from the party have alleged that the party falls victim to the same problems of nepotism as the ruling junta does with its relationships with cronies.