Mon Hluttaw deputy speaker responds to dismissal rumours after bridge protest

By NYAN HLAING LYNN | FRONTIER

NAY PYI TAW — The deputy speaker of the Mon State Hluttaw has refused to deny rumours he will be dismissed from his post, after he earned the ire of the National League for Democracy over his role in the ongoing Chaungzon bridge dispute.

Dr Aung Naing Oo, the sole member of the All Mon Region Democracy Party in the state legislature and representative for Chaungzon-1, has played a leading role in marshalling protests against the Union Parliament’s decision to name the bridge after independence hero Bogyoke Aung San.

“I don’t want to say that it’s unlikely,” Aung Naing Oo told Frontier by phone. “[NLD members] are really irritated by my activities. They may see [the protests] as something I launched … if there is a disagreement, I have to face it according to the law.”

Aung Naing Oo denied instigating the demonstrations, telling Frontier that opposition to the naming of the bridge would have arisen without his involvement.

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NLD lawmakers and some civil society members have told Frontier anonymously that Aung Naing Oo’s role in the protests prompted an address to the Mawlamyine parliament this week by Pyithu Hluttaw speaker U Win Myint, who is leading the NLD’s campaign in next month’s by-elections.

In his speech, Win Myint said it was the duty of all lawmakers to educate voters about the country’s transition to a federal democracy despite any differences between political parties, according to Aung Naing Oo and several NLD MPs present.

“The speaker told us … the NLD and other ethnic parties should collaborate on tasks that benefit the people even though they were rivals in the election,” U Aung Kyaw Thu (NLD, Thaton-2) told Frontier.

The Pyithu seat of Chaungzon is one of 19 constituencies being contested in the April 1 poll, following the resignation of Daw Khin Htay Kywe to sit on the Constitutional Tribunal.

The bridge dispute last week prompted an extraordinary public comment by Union Ethnic Affairs Minister Nai Thet Lwin, who criticised his lawmaker daughter Mi Kon Chan (NLD, Paung) for proposing the bridge be named after Aung San.

Other NLD figures said the decision was “unavoidable”, while NLD candidate Aye Win told Frontier he expected to win on the strength of his support in the south of Chaungzon.

The NLD is tipped by analysts to win the seat, despite thousands of people attending weekend protests against the naming decision, as a result of the AMRDP and Mon National Party each fielding candidates for the contest.

With 19 of 31 lawmakers in the Mon Hluttaw, the NLD would require the support of the chamber’s eight military MPs to meet the two-thirds majority required for Aung Naing Oo’s dismissal.

Last month, the Union government accepted the resignation of Mon State chief minister U Min Min Oo (NLD, Bilin-2), following complaints from the public and party colleagues over his proximity to the business community and lack of political experience.

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