USDP candidate who used religion to attack NLD yet to be tried

A former MP from the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has not yet been tried for violating a law against using religion for campaign purposes, according to the plaintiff in the case. 

Maung Myint, a Pyithu Hluttaw representative from Mingin township in Sagaing region was charged under section 58c of the Election Law on November 20 after he made false claims about Muslims in the National League for Democracy (NLD) to discourage voters from supporting the party. 

Kyaw Min Htut, the chair of the NLD’s legal aid committee in Mingin, filed the charges against Maung Myint but said there has been little movement in the case.

“The police process is taking a long time. We don’t interfere with that. If the police are asked, all they say is the process is not over yet,” he said.

Maung Myint, a 62-year-old former cabinet minister in the administration of former President Thein Sein, lost his seat in last year’s election after two successive wins in 2010 and 2015.

He previously served as deputy foreign minister when he was an army officer under the former military regime. He is also a member of the USDP’s central executive committee.

Zaw Win Kyaw, the deputy chief of police in Mingin township, told Myanmar Now in December that two summonses had been sent to Maung Myint in Yangon, where he lives. However, he added, postal service has been disrupted due to Covid-19.

When contacted on Monday for an update on the situation, Zaw Win Kyaw said he was unavailable for comment.

Myanmar Now also contacted Maung Myint to ask him if he planned to present himself at Mingin police station to face the charges, but his only response was, “Go and ask them.”

According to Kyaw Min Htut, who spoke to Myanmar Now in December, the investigation was nearly complete a month ago, with only one person remaining to be questioned. 

At the time, he expressed confidence in the handling of the case by police, but accused Maung Myint of not taking responsibility for his actions.

“In fact, he should face it with courage,” Kyaw Min Htut said.

The charges stem from remarks he made in a campaign speech that he delivered in Uyin Ma, a village in Mingin 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.

In the speech, which was captured on video and shared on social media, he also used derogatory language to refer to Muslims and suggested that they had 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 said.

In fact, the NLD had only two Muslim candidates in the 2020 election, both of whom won the seats they contested in Yangon and Mandalay.

Section 58c of the Election Law prohibits “uttering, making speeches, making declarations and instigating to vote or not to vote on grounds of race and religion.”

Maung Myint faces up to a year in prison, a fine of 100,000 kyat, or both if found guilty. 

A number of other candidates, including Michael Kyaw Myint, who leads the Yeomanry Development Party, and Soe Maung, chair of the National Political Democratic Party, were also accused of religious incitement during the 2020 election, but were not formally charged. 

Related Articles

Back to top button