December 17, 2015 – Aung San Suu Kyi is sending her newly-elected MPs on a crash course on Myanmar’s parliament as they prepare to take their seats for the first time early next year, her party said earlier today.
The veteran campaigner’s National League for Democracy party won a thunderous majority in landmark November polls that are set to tip the balance of power away from the military for the first time in decades.
Some 390 NLD MPs will flood into parliament in February, mostly political newcomers with no experience of the Nay Pyi Taw legislature, which itself has only been in operation since a semi-civilian regime replaced military rule in 2011.
“The new MPs do know about politics but they need to learn more about the parliament,” party spokesman Win Htein said.
He said a series of classes would teach the budding politicians about the operations of the legislature as well other key topics like the country’s controversial army-drafted constitution to help “improve their performance” as MPs.
The tutorials will be held in batches in Nay Pyi Taw and later in Yangon in the coming weeks as the NLD prepares for its historic new role after a quarter century of opposition to military rule.
Suu Kyi and her party will face a slew of challenges when they take the helm, building on the reforms of recent years to revive Myanmar’s fortunes after nearly half a century under military rule.
They will also have to work with the military, which continues to hold a quarter of parliament seats and control over key ministries.
But NLD MPs hoping to hear educational pearls of wisdom from Suu Kyi herself will be disappointed.
“She has not got time to teach the class,” Win Htein said, adding that the Nobel laureate was tied up with her duties in the current parliament, which resumed after the elections for a lame duck session that ends in January.
The first task of the new MPs will be to elect a president to replace Thein Sein, a former general lauded for steering the country’s stunning political opening since 2011.
Suu Kyi is barred from becoming leader by a constitutional clause banning those with foreign close relatives from top political office. Her sons and late husband are British.
She has indicated that she will pick a puppet president and rule “above” them, without explaining how this would work or revealing a candidate for the role.