NLD to report USDP candidate for making false claims about Muslims in the ruling party

The National League of Democracy (NLD) is planning to report Pyithu Hluttaw representative Maung Myint for falsely claiming that the party has 42 Muslim candidates running in next month’s election, according to the NLD’s Pabedan township vice-chair Maung Maung.

The party is awaiting instructions from its central executive committee before it files a formal complaint of defamation with the Union Election Commission (UEC), he added.

Maung Myint, who is running as a candidate for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Sagaing region’s Minkin township, made the claim during a campaign trip to the village of Oo Yin Ma in Minkin township on October 8.

“What you need to know is that one party had three Muslim candidates in 2010 and another party has 42 in this year’s election. So you need to look at the two parties and decide,” he said, referring to the USDP and the NLD.

Using a derogatory term for Muslims, Maung Myint also identified one NLD candidate by name.

“I’ll be specific. There’s a kalar called Si Thu Maung who’s running in the Pabedan constituency. There are 42 in total like him. So tell me, which party are you going to stand with?” he said.

“This fake information and hate speech has led to many conflicts. It should stop now,” said Si Thu Maung, one of two Muslims running as NLD candidates in this year’s election 

A video of Maung Myint’s campaign speech has gone viral since it was first shared on social media on October 15. In it, the USDP central executive committee member also strongly suggests that Muslims seeking public office have a sinister agenda.

“We don’t know what trouble they’re going to cause in parliament. And which party are they representing? The NLD, of course! How are they going to control them? We don’t even know if they [the NLD] are doing this on purpose,” he added.

In a separate video received by Myanmar Now, Maung Myint makes similar remarks to constituents in the village of Kyun Taw on October 2.

The seven-minute clip shows Maung Myint boasting about being able to control three Muslim MPs who won seats as USDP candidates in the 2010 election, saying that he didn’t even allow them to grow beards.

“This fake information and hate speech has led to many conflicts. It should stop now. We’re all working towards the same goal of building a country despite our differences,” said Si Thu Maung, the NLD’s candidate for a seat in the Pyithu Hluttaw representing Pabedan township.

Along with Win Mya Mya from Mandalay, Si Thu Maung is one of only two Muslims standing as NLD candidates in next month’s election.

Kyaw Min Htut, the chair of the NLD’s legal aid group, also denounced Maung Myint’s efforts to stir up anti-Muslim sentiment as a means of attacking the ruling party. The USDP has come under criticism in the past for using race and religion to turn voters against the NLD. 

Dr. Myo Nyunt, a spokesperson for the NLD’s central executive committee, said the party would initiate legal proceedings as per party policy if it determines that it has been subjected to abuse during the campaign.

“Campaigning with false information is underestimating the public,” said Dr. Myo Nyunt.

When Myanmar Now reached out to Maung Myint for comment, he said he would not discuss the matter.

Under Myanmar’s election laws, candidates can be disqualified for spreading false information. They may also face a sentence of up to one year in prison for inciting the public and can be prevented from taking office if they are found guilty of engaging in unlawful activity.

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