As the two-year anniversary of the ruling National League for Democracy’s (NLD) ascension to power in Myanmar approaches, positions in the party are being reshuffled. President Htin Kyaw stepped down on March 21, citing the need to “take a rest” from politics. Also last week, Win Myint, speaker of the lower house of parliament, was elected one of three vice presidents, positioning him as the favorite to take Htin Kyaw’s place when lawmakers vote for a new president in a secret ballot on Wednesday. Deputy speaker Khun Myat was elected to replace him as speaker of the lower house.
Meanwhile, the NLD has appointed Myo Nyunt, a member of the NLD’s Central Executive Committee, and Zaw Myint Maung, chief minister of Mandalay region and a regional lawmaker representing Amarapura township, as party spokesmen. They replace all but one of the current spokesmen as the civilian party under the leadership of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi gears up for further changes. Reporter Nay Rein Kyaw from RFA’s Myanmar Service spoke with Myo Nyunt about the possible role of a new president under Aung San Suu Kyi and the direction of the NLD in the future. What follows is an edited version of their conversation.
RFA: The NLD’s Central Executive Committee met a few days ago and appointed you and Zaw Myint Maung as the new spokesmen. Will there be any changes in the party in the future?
Myo Nyunt: We are always trying to change our party to make it more active and stronger.
RFA: Are the previous NLD spokesmen still serving in their capacities?
Myo Nyunt: Only Zaw Myint Maung is still serving [as spokesman], and I will speak on behalf of all NLD representatives. But local NLD leaders can speak as representatives of the NLD’s information committee for their local news.
RFA: What would you say have been the most obvious changes that have occurred in the past two years?
Myo Nyunt: The NLD has eliminated people’s fear of speaking out. The obvious change is that people can report to authorities anytime when they feel an injustice has occurred. As for the economy, I think we are controlling the stability of country’s budget system and the currency exchange rate.
RFA: What about the NLD not implementing its major goals?
Myo Nyunt: The NLD’s major goals are pretty high, such as amending the constitution, ending civil wars, and ensuring the rule of law. The NLD can’t accomplish this alone. The NLD has been working on anti-corruption efforts and has reformed the government and reshuffled top administrative level leaders who couldn’t perform their duties well.
RFA: If Win Myint becomes president, will the situation improve?
Myo Nyunt: I think it will be better because Win Myint has been working with the NLD since 1988. He knows about NLD members’ qualifications and abilities very well. Because he knows a lot about laws, he can organize and control those who work in government service so that they understand the government’s policies and objectives.
RFA: How much will Win Myint will be able to accomplish without Aung San Suu Kyi’s influence if he becomes president?
Myo Nyunt: I don’t want people to worry that much about it. Daw [honorific] Aung San Suu Kyi has great influence with the Myanmar people because of her own qualifications, background, and roots. But she always thinks about teamwork. We now are thinking about reforming the NLD according to Aung San Suu Kui’s guidelines. As far as I know, she lets her colleagues work as much as they can. She usually tries to control someone if he or she needs to be controlled. For example, she gives Yangon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein as well as many others a lot of authority. She might try to control Win Myint if he needs it, but it will not be a barrier to his authority [to run the country].
RFA: Aung San Suu Kyi is now 72 years old. Has the NLD discussed what its future will look like in the next five to 10 years?
Myo Nyunt: Yes, the NLD is thinking about reforming its leadership roles and about continuing what Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is working on now. We will issue one or two announcements soon, so people will know the details.
RFA: The NLD government still has three more year to go. Do you think you will gain more trust from people during this time?
Myo Nyunt: Yes, I believe we can do more to gain more people’s trust during those three years.
Reported by Nay Rein Kyaw for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Edited by Roseanne Gerin.