Decentralization Will Precede Federalism, Ethnic Political Parties Say

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Ethnic political parties have said that if Burma decentralizes its institutions and political practices, there will be greater opportunity to work toward ethnic equality and self-determination.

NMG spoke to members of the Kayah State Democratic Party (KySDP), the Kachin State People’s Party (KSPP), the Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD), the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), and the Karen National Democratic Party (KNDP), about the issue of centralization in the country, and why voters should choose their respective parties on election day this weekend.

“Ethnic political parties need to win in this election because we want to reduce centralization. Then we want to build a federal Union,” KySDP secretary Khu Thae Reh told NMG. “Electoral candidates from ethnic political parties are very close to the ethnic people, and these candidates have been working for their region and their people. These candidates understand what local people want and the difficulties of local people. These candidates are capable of implementing benefits for local people. That’s why these candidates need to win in the election.”

Gumgrawng Awng Hkam, the vice chairperson 2 of the KSPP, hopes that state-based ethnic political parties will get enough parliamentary seats to form a coalition government in order to advance their collective vision.

“The KSPP will play a key role in a coalition government in the future. The KSPP will participate in building a federal Union. The KSPP will join in to amend the Constitution,” he told NMG, adding that the KSPP was an integral part of Kachin State.

CNLD chairperson Ngai Sak urged ethnic Chin people to vote for his party because of their commitment to ethnic demands, such as for rights to equality and self-determination, and regional development in accordance with what the people want.

“Other political parties such as the NLD [National League for Democracy] and the USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party] didn’t speak about these things for Chin State. They may construct roads and schools as regional development, so they are completely different from our party,” he told NMG.

SNLD candidate in Kachin State’s Waingmaw Township Sai Sung Lio said that the SNLD is committed to implementing the promises of the 1947 Panglong Agreement for the benefit of all ethnic groups.

“Our party is trying to build a federal Union. If Burma doesn’t practice federalism, there will be no peace in the country. Building a federal Union is one of our party’s policies. People can trust our party,” he told NMG.

Chair of the KNDP Mann Aung Pyi Soe pointed to the party’s motto as a reason he hoped ethnic communities would support them: “To get equality, vote for the KNDP. To create self-determination, vote for the KNDP.”

“We will try our best in parliament. We will work for our state. That’s why voters should cast their ballots for us,” he told NMG.

Burma’s general election is being held on November 8.