YANGON--Newly elected lawmakers from Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party are pressing Japanese aid officials in Myanmar to help their constituencies.
Two members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a landslide victory in by-elections at the start of April, visited the office of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Yangon on April 24 and asked for assistance to be provided to the areas they represent.
“We understand that JICA provides aid through the government, but we want to deliver it to the general public directly,” Phyo Min Thein, one of the two lawmakers, said. “We can cooperate for that purpose.”
The lawmakers said they also plan to seek help from the aid agencies of South Korea and other countries as part of efforts to respond to voters in rural villages who complained during the election campaign of falling farm incomes and difficulties in securing well water.
“(The election victory) has made us the largest opposition party in the parliament and enabled us to work for the improvement of people’s lives,” Phyo Min Thein said.
The NLD was previously critical of foreign aid provided to Myanmar’s military regime and focused its campaign for the by-elections almost exclusively on democratization and human rights. However, some in the party appear eager to present tangible achievements to voters ahead of the next parliamentary election scheduled in 2015.
Meanwhile, the NLD agreed on April 30 to end a boycott of parliament and swear an oath to protect the Constitution.
“As a gesture of respect to the desires of the people and in consideration of the requests made by lawmakers from democratic parties and independent lawmakers, we have decided to attend the parliament,” Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters after a meeting of party leaders, according to Reuters.
The newly elected NLD lawmakers did not appear in Myanmar’s parliament on April 23, refusing an oath of office in which they swear to safeguard the Constitution. The NLD said the statement contravened its promise of revising the Constitution.
However, Thein Nyunt, a former senior NLD member and a Lower House representative for the New National Democratic Party, described the NLD’s boycott as a political game.
He said a pledge to “safeguard” the Constitution did not contradict a policy of making constitutional amendments, pointing out that the Constitution itself provided procedures for revision.
Weekly Eleven News, a popular magazine, also carried critical comments from voters. One was quoted as saying: “I understand the NLD’s arguments, but I voted to send (NLD members) to the parliament. People will be disappointed.”
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