Myo Yan Naung Thein, National League for Democracy's (NLD) secretary of central committee for research and strategy studies, claims that the party—NLD—have monitored the activities of everyone from Shan State including U T Khun Myat since 2014 May.
His claim was a response to questions and criticisms against NLD choosing T Khun Myat from Union Solidarity and Development Party who has been accused of involvement in drug trades and money laundering.
“Not all the accusations are true. Some journalists—in my opinion and I apologize in advance—write their stories to be interesting. Therefore, while investigating for the information and reporting, they do not follow in details as much as we did when we researched. We looked in every way and from different perspectives. We don’t focus on one thing.
So we have full details. I see the news (stories) were presented from only one side. We can accept (him). Not just accepting, we believe he is appropriate for the position. Some cases cannot be told to the media. Some of the details cannot be shared. However, we know what did what. I have monitored and studied Shan State for over a year. The researches in Kachin and Shan States were started in May 2014. We learnt about the activities and occurrences of every single person,” explained Myo Yan Naung Thein.
T Khun Myat, formerly leader of Kutkai militia, became parliamentarian from USDP representing Kutkai Township in 2010 and later chaired Pyithu Hluttaw (lower house) Bill Committee. He won in the 2015 election representing Kutkai Township where his militia has a stronghold.
Questions recently arises among the public while he has been nominated as deputy spokesperson for Pyithu Hluttaw.
Nevertheless, T Khun Myat denied any accusations on his involvements in drug trade.
In his interview with Irrawaddy news on January 29, T Khun Myat said ‘the truth must be uncovered’. On the same day, he told Democratic Voice of Burma TV news to go to Kutkai and investigate.
“I don’t want to say (anything). I see this as an intentional attack. News media will criticize me while I rose up. However, to be the truth, the source must be reliable. So the best way is go to my region without my knowledge. Go and investigate. That is all I want to say. That is the way to uncover the truth,” T Khun Myat, leader of Kutkai militia, told DVB news.
While he encourage the media to go and investigate in Kutkai, the news articles, opinion pieces and quotes from the locals published in Irrawaddy and Shan Herald news were reported after investigating in the region.NLD central executive committee member Nyan Win announced the candidates for spokespersons and deputy spokespersons for parliament on January 28 after a CEC meeting.
“Mainly, we choose the ones we believe will do their best to ensure democracy. That is the most important thing. The decision was made after a CEC meeting. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attended the meeting. There was no guideline. We discussed on who to choose and what kind of people should be chosen. And we have chosen the people we believe can be trusted, those who believe in democracy and loyal to our party. We bases on those facts. We chose our candidates based on these qualifications,” explained Nyan Win.
While criticisms arises against NLD choosing T Khun Myat as deputy spokesperson for lower house, NLD CEC member Win Htein congratulated him during an interview with DVB news on January 29.
“A militia leader. When I met him, I told him that his father and I were friends and he was happy to know that. His family is influential in the region and did many good things for the locals. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi chose to honor the deeds and selected him, an ethnic member. I’m glad,” Win Htein told DVB.
While DVB asked about criticisms on T Khun Myat, Win Htein replied saying why were they quiet in the last five years and he ‘does not care’.
“Why were they quiet in the last five years? We cannot understand why they disclose is now. Still, (we) do not care. In the last five years, T Khun Myat successfully fulfilled his responsibilities. That is evidence. I believe he will be able to accomplish more in the coming years,” Win Htein said.
Although Win Htein said there was no criticism against T Khun Myat before, questions relating to accusations against him involving in drug trades and poppy fields in the area controlled by his militia were reported on media outlets in 2010, 2011, 2013 and during the run-ups to 2015 election.
Eleven Media Group’s CEO Dr. Than Htut Aung posted on his Facebook social media page on January 29 saying, “2010 election and 2015 election: USDP government and NLD government: the values that the public place upon them are different. How the international community views them is different. The way people are interested in them are also different. That is also true while choosing parliamentary leaders for the next government. Irrawaddy and Shan Herald reported about T Khun Myat and drug trade. Shan Herald had published the stories a while ago: in 2010 and 2011. Irrawaddy published the stories in 2013. The stories were reported during the era when media starts to enjoy press freedom; in an era when official denies can be made. It was not like the previous times while one-sided accusations were being reported. The data for the story was collected through investigative reporting. Until now, there are still controversies on what the locals said. In international standard, involvement in drug trade is the most shameful. It can affect the reputation of the parliament and the 2015 election. Investigations into the issue must be organized. Locals, Shan Herald, Irrawaddy and T Khun Myat must be questioned. Inquiries must be made into the properties, businesses and tax payments of T Khun Myat. This is just pointing out the means that can be arranged in democratic standards and international standards. The investigation must be conducted by an independent and free organization. Because the accusations are related to drug trade, the most infamous case in international community. If the accusations are wrong, the dignity of both T Khun Myat and the parliament will grow. If no such measures are conducted, it will be a shadow haunting the parliament for the next five years. This is a test on Myanmar’s democracy.”