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Suu Kyi hits back at critics

NLD is the only democratic party in Myanmar, says opposition leader

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says her National League for Democracy is the most effective political party in Myanmar because it is the only one founded on democratic principles. Suu Kyi, speaking at a press conference on Monday before leaving Singapore, responded to criticism that her party may not have enough capable members.

Criticism has been levelled at the NLD for failing to realise its objective of establishing a democratic nation through non-violent reform, despite its 25 years of existence as a party.

"I dare anyone to show me another party in Myanmar as capable as the NLD. Ours is the only party truly founded on democratic principles," Suu Kyi told the press conference.

The NLD was established on September 27, 1988 with Aung San Suu Kyi as general secretary. Conceived in the wake of the 1988 uprising, the party won a landslide victory in the 1990 election with over 80 per cent of the ballots cast. But the military regime denied the election results and called a National Convention in 1993 as a pretext to draft a Constitution. At that time, NLD leaders including Suu Kyi were detained. Some MPs from the NLD attended the National Convention. However, they walked out of the convention a year after Suu Kyi was released from her first house arrest in 1995. In 1998, winning NLD members tried to convene a parliament but the military government thwarted their attempt.

While Suu Kyi was under house arrest for 15 of the 21 years between 1989 and 2010, the NLD lacked effective leadership and its political activities waned. Despite being the winning party, it could not put as much pressure on the military government as expected.

When the party was reunited, Aung San Suu Kyi became its chairperson and gave up the 1990 results to run in the 2012 by-election. The NLD won 42 out of 45 parliamentary seats across the nation. Although the Suu Kyi-led NLD has joined parliament to engage in political affairs as a main opposition party, it continues to struggle for its ultimate objective.

The NLD has attracted criticism for relying too heavily on Suu Kyi's personality, for lacking a strong foundation, and for attracting too few party members with good qualifications.

Suu Kyi said at the press conference that Myanmar would face more problems if the Constitution was not changed before the next election in 2015. She also said she wanted Myanmar to learn from, not copy Singapore, adding that Singapore could also learn from her country.

Suu Kyi's five-day visit to Singapore ended on Tuesday.


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