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Earlier this month, the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) was roiled in controversy when it dismissed five executive members in Shan State, including the party’s state chairperson, Khin Moe Moe, in what some observers regarded as a heavy-handed manner. The move was carried out under orders from Win Htein, a senior NLD member close to party leader Aung San Suu Kyi who has often been faulted for his handling of sensitive matters. DVB spoke with him recently about this latest incident.
Question: Did you sign the order replacing the five NLD executive committee members in Shan State who were recently sacked?
Answer: Yes, we appointed five NLD members from southern Shan State to the executive positions.
Q: Were they informed about their appointments beforehand?
A: Of course.
Q: But U Nay Zaw Naing posted on his Facebook he was not aware of it?
A: On Facebook, people can post anything they want. So let them.
Q: Why were the former executive committee members led by Daw Khin Moe Moe dismissed from their duties?
A: Firstly, she is also involved in other organisations such as CSOs and NGOs. Secondly, she would invite the local Special Police and [military] intelligence officials to our party’s regional meetings. Thirdly, she never contributed in ensuring victory for the party in the time leading up to the 2015 elections; but when we won the elections, she remained as the chairperson. We had been planning to remove her for a long time but weren’t able to do so as we were busy.
Q: In a protest against the dismissal of the five former executives, some party officials including the Taunggyi chairperson Khun Than Lwin submitted their resignations. What would you like to say about it?
A: That is their right. If they are happy, then they can continue working for us; otherwise they can quit. It’s not like anyone gets a profit from doing party work – people are working for their political beliefs but not for privileges. There is not much more to say about this. We have had many experiences like this in the past. We even had to dismiss Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo when they were in prison or under house arrest – can anything ever be worse than that?
Q: Regarding the dismissal of the Taunggyi district chairperson Tin Maung Toe, you said you made the call under a mandate from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Political observers pointed out that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as she holds a senior government position, cannot be involved in the party’s affairs. Your comments?
A: I didn’t say I had a mandate from Daw Suu. I merely informed her what I was going to do. I didn’t even know U Tin Maung Toe in person nor was he a friend of mine. I’ve never spoken to him before. He was rude when he learnt that I was coming to town, saying thing like ‘What is this old man here to mess about with?’ But that I don’t mind – I could just tell him to not say it again. But then he posted on Facebook that the NLD CEC position can be bought if you have the money – that we cannot tolerate.
Q: Some senior NLD members said they were not aware of what happened?
A: At first they weren’t. But then I phoned them and told them about it. So now they know.
Q: Some are saying the dismissal of the five was your decision alone.
A: You can use your own judgement whether to believe that or not.
Q: So you are saying that is not true?
A: No, no. There are other CECs here – Dr Zaw Myint Maung, Ko Win Myint and Daw May Win Myint.
Q: So you discussed with the CEC before going ahead with the dismissals?
A: Of course.
U Win Htein, thank you very much for your time.