Election Anniversary: What Has Changed in Mon State?
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Election Anniversary: What Has Changed in Mon State?


Thursday, November 03, 2011

The one-year anniversary of Burma’s 2010 election – the first election to be held in the country in 20 years – is in four days.

Nai Lawi Oung gave speech during election campaign in 2010 (Photo:Kaowao)
Nai Lawi Oung gave speech during election campaign in 2010 (Photo:Kaowao)

The Burmese government allowed each ethnic state in Burma to set up its own government after the election according to the new constitution, but ruled by the head of Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDA), which is dominated by Burmese ex-military generals.

After the election, the USDA leaders, who won the majority of votes in the country, have selected some ethnic people from ethnic parties to rule the ethnic states with them, playing a very cunning strategy according to the ethnic community leaders.

The USDA selected two Mon people from the All Mon Regions Democracy Party (AMDP) to join with them to form a new government in Mon State. The two people were Nai Lawi Oung, who is currently Minister of Electric Power and Industry, and Min Nwe Soe, who is currently the Minister of Finance and Revenue.

Firstly, many Mon community leaders were hopeful that these two ministers would be able to work for their community to promote Mon literature and culture. However, after the two ministers became a part of the new government in Mon State, the Mon community leaders found that they could not do much for the Mon community even after one year.

Some Mon community leaders accused the USDA of selecting the two Mon ministers as part of a strategy to divide and influence the role of the AMDP.

The AMDP retains a limited role in the Mon community, and the two Mon ministers refused to resign from the party after becoming ministers in the new government of Mon State.

“We wanted our party to take a more active role in our community, and we told them [the Mon ministers] to resign from the party so we could replace them with other people in order to run party more actively,” said Nai Ngwe Thein, the chairman of AMDP.

The AMDP is run by two leaders who have different political ideas about how to approach the changing nature of Mon politics and engagement with the Burmese government. In the meantime, while there are disagreements between the chairman of the party and the secretary of party, Min Nwe Soe is also the founder of the party.

Min Nwe Soe is a person who does not want to criticize the Burmese government, while Nai Ngwe Thein frequently speaks to the Burmese exile media and requests the Burmese government to release all political prisoners in Burma in order take another step towards a democratic society in the country.

According to the AMDP leaders, they have planned to advance Nai Cham Toi, who was the former executive committee member of the New Mon State Party (NMSP), to the position of Min Nwe Soe. However, Min Nwe Soe wrote a rule for the party earlier this year due to his worries that former members of NMSP would influence his party, according to members from the party.

The written rule puts restrictions on former members of NMSP who wish to become members of AMDP. They have to wait two years to be recognized as members of AMDP.

“Nai Cham Toi has lost his hope and was depressed after the written rule came out that he could not join the party,” said a member of AMDP from Mudon Township.

The Mon community leaders have repeatedly proposed that the two Mon ministers should promote Mon literature and culture, and even health care conditions, but the two ministers told the community leaders that the community leaders that should tell the Chief Minister of Mon State, Ohn Myint, their requests.

“Some of my people asked Nai Lawi Oung, one time when he visited Ye Township, to promote Mon literature and culture, and health care. But, he said, ‘Do not tell me about this. Go to tell the government,’” said Nai Kao Rot, who is the former Deputy Army Chief of NMSP.

Nai Kao Rot has accused the two Mon ministers of “becoming Mon USDA now. It seems Mon USDA is as difficult to deal with as Burmese USDA.”

After becoming a minister of the new government in Mon State, Nai Lawi Oung has been trying to work to bring electric power to Kalawthut Aillage, and to offer electric power to his native village in Mudon Township as his first local development project to initiate after he became a minister.

He has charged each household that plans to use electric power about 400,000 kyat, saying he is going to transfer electric power to the village from the Ministry of Electric Power and the government in Mon State.

“There are about 400 houses that have applied to have electric power. There are many more houses that wnat to apply, but they have suspicions about how much power he can transfer to the village as there are often shortages of electric power in Mon State,” said a Kalawthut villager.

“I do not think his plan is going to work very well because there is a shortage of electric power in Mon State — we only get electricity three days a week,” said Dr. Min Kyi Win, a prominent of Mon politician and a former political prisoner.

Several Mon community leaders have reported to Kaowao that they have not yet seen any positive changes in their community for the Mon people, even though two of the government’s new ministers are from Mon State.

“They [the two Mon ministers] do not have power. This is why they cannot do anything. They have to listen to orders from Naypyidaw,” said Nai Tin Aung, who is a community leader in Paga Village, Thanbyuzayat Township, and a former executive committee member of NMSP.

“We have not seen anything change in our community since they were elected. The people are not going to vote for them in the next election if they do not work for the people,” said Nai Dod, who is a member of AMDP.


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