Maulana Akbar ShahThe author, Dr. Maulana Akbar Shah @ U Tun Aung is a Myanmar National and an Assistant Professor, from the Department of Fundamental & Inter-Disciplinary Studies, Kulliyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Science, International Islamic University, Malaysia.

(Credit : This article is shared by copying from the Facebook Page of Maulana Akbar Shah)


Myanmar has been abode of Muslims for the last thousand years as the history revealed of their arrival at the coastal cities in the beginning of 8 AD. Their loyalty and excellent services to their respective kings and the country in the past awarded them with a true identity as national of Myanmar who have a strong faith in Islam. Although they had lived with peace and bliss for years, their happiness and joy does not remain longer for oppressive nature of military rule and discriminative nature of nationalistic mentality maintained by some of the organizations. Their participation with General Aung San for the independence of Myanmar and cooperation with Aung San Su Kyi throughout the struggle for democracy in Myanmar cannot be omitted. However, Muslim community no longer expects a good response for their respective issues from ASSK and her party, National league for Democracy, NLD when Muslim electoral candidates have been expelled from NLD candidate list. At present, Muslims are in confusion that they do not know to whom they should vote for the upcoming election 2015. This article observed detailed situation of the current Muslims parties and candidates and gave some suggestion that might pave a way for their better future.


အင္းဝေခတ္ ဗလီေက်ာင္းပံု

A Mosque in Innwa Dynasty

Myanmar has been abode for Muslims for the last thousand years as the history revealed of their arrival at the coastal cities in the beginning of 8 AD. Their loyalty and excellent services to their respective kings and the country in the past awarded them with a true identity as national of Myanmar who have a strong faith in Islam. Successive kings and the rulers of Myanmar recognized them of their sacrifices with greater facilities of freedom of worship and building religious structures at all over Myanmar. Although they have lived with peace and bliss for hundreds of years, their happiness and joy does not remain longer for oppressive nature of military ruling and nationalistic mentality maintained by some organizations. Muslims came across a hard situation throughout military rule till present days where they paid a heavy price of thousands of their life and millions of their properties. Their participation with General Aung San, Myanmar patriotic leader for the independence of Myanmar and cooperation with Aung San Su Kyi, ASSK throughout the struggle for democracy in Myanmar cannot be omitted. It is a landmark of their loyalty that how much they love their land, culture and the people. During the struggle for democracy rule in Myanmar, many Muslims worked for her party and the nation and expected heavily on ASSK for she has been an international figure, Noble laureate and the most highly regarded democracy icon of Myanmar. However, her party’s stand against Muslim’s issues, particularly riots between the Buddhists and the Muslims and her stand with regards to Rohingya caused a great displeasure for both the Muslims as well as the international community.


Muslims on the other hand, understood that ASSK has been disappointed by her political foes defaming her popularity with many accusation. NLD was quite obsessed by allegations that NLD is in favour of Muslims and it is a Muslims’s party, etc. Among her critics, Ma Ba Ta, a radical Buddhist organization, led by a senior Monk called Wirathu and some of Union Solidarity and Development Party, USDP members are at the top list. ASSK became more annoyed when her possibility for the post of the presidency was made impossible by the Myanmar parliament overwhelmed by USDP parliamentarians and military representatives. Thus, her party became quite cautious about Muslim involvement in the party and the country. Since the distance between NLD and Muslim members became quite far and wider, NLD begins actions of keeping Muslim members in delusion and inactive. Their tactics has been more obvious when the election period comes closer that all Muslim’s candidates for upcoming election of November 2015 have been excluded from the list of NLD candidacy for election. Muslims argued that many of them sacrificed their life and properties for her party in different ways and means.


Sithu Maung, a former political prisoner and founding member of the Confederation of University Student Unions, detained in prison once for participating in 2007 Shew war Yaung revolution was keen to stand in the election from Panbedan Tawnship. He was initially well received in NLD and was expected to collect majority of votes from Muslims in the township, however was replaced by a Buddhist candidate and excluded from the list without any reason. He is assumed as one of National heroes and never thought NLD would betray such a national figure. He said NLD should not act discriminative move and everyone in the party is dealt fairly and squarely. This action of NLD not only disappointed him but also annoyed the entire Muslim community. Sithu Maung said, he was never understood why he was sacked from the list and it should not be the case according to Jonah fisher who met him earlier. When a senior NLD leader, U Tin Oo was asked about expulsion of Muslims candidates form NLD, then he said, he did not know the reason, said by Fisher. Sithu Maung was asked “ Is there any Muslim candidate in NLD” he said “I don’t want to comment directly, but I can say that there were no Muslim candidates selected by the NLD”.

One of the Muslim activist, Myat Thu, a veteran of the 88 Generation student group said ASSK seemed scared about Ma Ba Ta and worried about losing votes from the majority Buddhist although she wrote well about how to stand against the formidable tyrant and not to be feared. Among those whose applications were rejected includes Win Mya Mya, a leading member of the NLD’s Mandalay Division office, jailed during the 2007 Saffron Uprising; and Kyi Lwin, chairman of the party’s Rangoon Eastern District office, according to party insiders.
One of the prominent 88 student leader, Ko Mya Aye said the decision taken against expulsion of Muslim candidates from the electoral list was not desirable and wrong, in fact there are many Muslims who work with NLD for a long time and the voice of the minority in the parliament is indispensable. The fact is that he was enlisted with NLD to stand in the upcoming election like Ko Ko Gyi of 88 Generation, but later the former withdrew from the electoral list voluntarily in fear that he would also be sacked as other Muslim. He hinted that this kind of NLD move would lose many Muslims candidates and their supports in the near future.


Shwe Maung, a Rohingya Muslim and currently represents the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Parliament’s Lower House, was similarly told by Union Election Commission (UEC) that his application to run for re-election was rejected on grounds that his parents were not citizens when he was born. Although he was dismissed by UEC he continued to run as an independent candidate in the November poll with whatever ways available. But, his effort with all kind of genuine evidence and proof were turn down and rejected to run for election as an independent candidate by UEC.

Kyaw Min, Chairman of the Democracy and Human Rights Party, DHRP was quite disappointed by the decision of UEC which rejected its 17 candidates for they did not meet citizenship requirements. Since only one candidate out of 18 submitted for scrutiny was accepted, the Party, DHRP was about to be deregistered by UEC for Political Parties Registration Law solicits that a party will be deregistered if at least 3 candidates of the party is not participated in the election. Kyaw Min, who was one of the DHRP’s rejected candidates, said the purported explanation was “ridiculous,” given that he was allowed to contest Burma’s 1990 election. “I think it’s a strategy that intends to keep Muslims out of politics,” he said, according to Irrawaddy.

UNC, United National Congress, a Muslim party has been active for its political activities particularly in upper Burma. The founders, Mg Mg Soe, Khin Mg Thein and Hla Myint have a history of engagement in political struggle for democracy, claiming for the rights of Muslims and particularly San Tin Kaw suffered severe torture and agony during interrogation period in the prison. However, they have registered with the Union Election Commission (UEC) to participate in the election 2015. Although many of their candidates were rejected to stand in the election by UEC in the initial stage, some of them like San Tin Kyaw, (Mingalar Taung Nyunt electorate), Yan Nying, (Tin Gan kyun, electorate), Aung Myint Myat (Tamew, electorate) have been reaccepted and now they have been working hard for courting their supporters.


U Ko NiKo Ni, a prominent lawyer and senior member of NLD asserted that the central leadership of NLD had intentionally excluded 15 of its Muslim candidates from the list of electoral candidacy which appeared to be linked to the rise of an aggressive nationalist movement in NLD. Probably NLD have feared towards being branded as anti-Buddhist party or the Muslim candidates might be expelled by election commission UEC by any reason or fear of losing many parliamentarian seats in the coming election.

In this context, the supporters, particularly Muslims do not know what their political future is and who is going to represent their issues in the parliament. And they became bewildered for whom to support and give their vote in the coming election. One thing is sure that Muslims have come to know very well about the objective, aim, vision and mission of the ruling party as well as the opposition party, NLD after having many suffering and exasperated experiences. They all agreed that the ruling party USDP and their predecessors, the military governments gave them good lessons for the last 60 years where they had paid many life and their properties. They knew if they continue to support them their future would be in nightmare after having several barbarous violence between the Muslims and the Buddhists.

On the other hand, the opposition party NLD was expected to be helping Muslims in any case, but they too had changed their colour when they encountered unexpected pressure from their dissidents. The prominent lawyer Ko Ni suggested that expulsion of Muslim candidates by NLD is a political need and he believed NLD would be the most useful party for Muslims and all Muslims without any concern should vote NLD candidates. There are many Muslims who are not sure about NLD stand. Many started thinking that they should vote Muslim individual candidates who would absolutely work hard on behalf of Muslims in the parliament. But in reality, individual cannot practically change any ruling in the parliament, as at least more than 50% minimum support is required for change of order in the assembly. At present many Muslims feel frustrated while many of their candidates have been dispelled from the list of electoral candidacy thus, they neither trusted USDP nor NLD. Under this circumstances, what should be the stand of Muslims?

I would agree the concept of the lawyer, Ko Ni that expulsion of Muslims candidates as a political need, because if a Muslim candidate submitted by NLD for participating in the election and later is dispelled by the UEC with any reason, NLD lost a candidate permanently and that cannot be replaced any more according to the law. Therefore, NLD is very careful to take even a politically famous Buddhist candidates who might also be dismissed by UEC such as Ko Ko Gyi and Dr. Nyo Nyo Thin. However, many Muslims still feel that NLD is also not an appropriate party for Muslims because they compared NLD or USDP with (Pha Sa Pa La), the famous political party in the first Myanmar democracy period (1947-1962), led by U Nu, ex-Prime Minister of Myanmar which gave Muslims an undesirable lesson in the past.


It was the (Pha Sa Pa La), who encouraged Muslims to form Ba Ma Ka, (Bamar Muslim Congress) when they need to struggle for Independence, and Muslim’s votes. As a result, many Muslims entered in the army and the politics, struggling for independence and supported candidates of (Pha Sa Pa La) in every eletion. When the independence was gained and (Pha Sa Pa La) was able to form the government, it is this very (Pha Sa Pa La) deviated from their promise and demanded to annul Ba Ma Ka, (1954). Looking at all these scenario and experiences, Muslims understood that they would never be able to trust neither NLD, nor USDP for they would never be able to abide their promises in the future, although they have given many promises to assist the Muslims.

However, I do not think that the selection of NLD would be wrong for the Muslims in the upcoming election. I think it must be true that their exclusion of Muslim candidate has been a political need and temporary. NLD is the most possible majority winning party in the election if everything goes well. To be able to proceed forming the government in the parliament, NLD needs more than 50 % seats in the election and if it is able to form a government, there will be better arrangement for law and order, justice, equality, freedom of choice, moderation and minority right in our country as NLD promise to the entire Myanmar people. They might play with the Muslims but they cannot cheat the entire people of Myanmar and international community who always support her party . These political principles and mandates are indispensable in a real sense of democracy bringing Myanmar people to a successful and prosperous nation.


One of a crucial question for the Muslims is to whom they should vote. And it is genuinely dependent on the objective of Muslim political future. Every one of them is thought that their better future would settle all of their problems of discrimination, inequality, religious freedom and a peaceful co-existence among all the races of Myanmar. They believed that current political trend does not grantee their safety and stability, and they expected a new government that would contribute justice, equality and stability. In reality, forming a new government needs majority seats in the parliament. In this context, minority Muslim parliamentarians cannot exercise any effort to change, establish or introduce any new law but with the support of friendly parliamentarians. This situation solicited an immediate assessment for the Muslims to consider supporting the most reliable and potential political party. Which party is reliable and potential managing to obtain more than 50% votes in the upcoming election? It is obviously NLD party if everything goes well.

For those Muslims who still think that ASSK would still be unreliable, then fine, tell me who is, for the time being more useful for Muslims. No one, definitely can tell for sake of Muslims which party is better, when we compare NLD and USDP. Let’s say, while considering every pain and gain, Muslim would think that USDP would be a bigger harm and NLD might be a small harm. According to the principle of Shari’a, if one finds two harm at a time, a small harm should be selected. For example, in case of selection between death and Illegal food, (Haram food), Haram food is an option to be selected. In this context, the Muslims should opt NLD as there is no one on the other hand. The option of NLD as national level is for the sake of ASSK’ characteristics and sacrifices she showed throughout her life.

Aung San Su Kyi took a heavy accusation and condemnation from the whole world that she has changed her principles of Democracy, Human rights, indiscrimination of race and religion, etc. It is true that she ignored many of her principles to the extent that the whole world started thinking; she became absolutely against her sacrifices and philosophies, but I believed she did it all for the sake of long term change of the Myanmar politics. If we look at the changes so far she tried to manage was unimaginable before she joined the politics of Myanmar such as the process of democratic changes, release of political prisoners, bi-election and participation of opposition in the parliament and in upcoming election with more than 1000 candidates. All these changes could not be materialized if she has not sacrificed for the nation and the people.

The most significant argument to mention here is a need of change in the history of Myanmar, as Myanmar has been under the military rule for more than 6 decades where the country reached to the status of least developed country (LDC) in the world. Today is the best opportunity for people of Myanmar to show solidarity being agent of change and must use this golden opportunity for change. Speaking the truth, NLD is the only party who can bring change in Myanmar politics, thus, do not waver whom we should support and in fact it is NLD we must support for change. First we must bring a change in our political scenario, then think about other issue as a second option.

Hopefully, ASSK could be able to bring justice and good administration when her party manage to form a government in the near future. That is the time Muslims could be able to find a better life and good living as they have been dreaming for a long time. Therefore, I feel it is the best time to urge all Muslims voters to give their precious votes to the candidates of NLD.

Last but not the least is that I am not totally against supporting our own Muslim candidates at individual level because they can express Muslim’s issue in the parliament, then it is an assertion of Muslim’s issue recorded in the parliament. But acceptance of any ruling or change of any regulation needs more than 50 % support. Who can give such support to Muslim’ issue, it is only friendly party who understand pain and suffering of the Muslims or who would support justice, equality and indiscrimination. For example Shew Maung expressed Rohingya issues many a time in the parliament although he was with USDP, USDP never supported his claims for his people, but the world came to know many information about Rohingya through his expression.


(1) Myanmar poll: NLD ‘rejects Muslim candidates’, Jonah Fisher reports, 8 September 2015 Last updated at 00:53 BST
(2) Aung San Suu Kyi’s ‘silence’ on the Rohingya: Has ‘The Lady’ lost her voice?, By Tim Hume, CNN, Updated 0321 GMT (1021 HKT) June 1, 2014
(3) Complaints continue over NLD’s controversial candidate list, Myanmar Times, Ei Ei Toe Lwin,Ye Mon | Monday, 10 August 2015
(4) Lawyers Speak Out Against Newly Minted Race and Religion Laws, by KYAW PHYO THA / THE IRRAWADDY | 02 Sep 2015
(5) Moshe Yegar . (1972). the Muslims of Burma. Germany, Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, P. 47
(6) Muslim candidate in upcoming elections, by HANNA HINDSTROM / THE IRRAWADDY | 31 Aug 2015
(7) Muslim candidate in upcoming elections, by HANNA HINDSTROM / THE IRRAWADDY | 31 Aug 2015
(8) Muslim Myanmar candidates disqualified in election, World Bulletin / News Desk, 13:54, 18 September 2015 Friday
(9) Muslim Party Facing Political Oblivion after Candidates Rejected, by MOE MYINT / THE IRRAWADDY | 01 Sep 2015
(10) Muslim political group gets greenlight under condition, Myanmar Times, Khin Su Wai, and Friday, 02 November 2012
(11) Myanmar poll: NLD ‘rejects Muslim candidates’, Jonah Fisher, 8 September 2015 Last updated at 00:53 BST
(12) Myanmar’s 2015 general elections explained, Preparations are underway for Myanmar’s general elections on 8 November, BBC’s Jonah Fisher, 20, July, 2015
(13) Myanmar’s 2015 general elections explained, Will the vote be democratic?, BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Yangon explains the key issues, 20, July, 2015,
(14) NLD Accuses Ma Ba Tha of Unlawful Influence, MOE MYINT / THE IRRAWADDY | 23 Sep 2015
(15) NLD Blocked Muslim Candidates to Appease Ma Ba Tha: Party Member, A prominent member of the NLD claims the opposition party has succumbed to pressure from Buddhist nationalists by refusing to field a single
(16) NLD Blocked Muslim Candidates to Appease Ma Ba Tha: Party Member, A prominent member of the NLD claims the opposition party has succumbed to pressure from Buddhist nationalists by refusing to field a single
(17) NLD, Ma Ba Tha in War of Words Over Campaign Claims, by KYAW PHYO THA / THE IRRAWADDY | 24 Sep 2015
(18) Ruling Party MP Cuts Ties to Contest November Poll as an Independent, Shwe Maung, a USDP MP representing Arakan State’s Buthidaung Township, will contest the upcoming general election as an independent candidate, by MOE MYINT / THE IRRAWADDY | 11 Aug 2015
(19) Suu Kyi Tells Voters to Ignore Election Intimidation, Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi tells voters to ignore intimidation and to cast their ballots without fear in the upcoming general election, by MIN KYI THEIN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS,31 Aug 2015
(20) The Telegraph Group Limited, London, 2015, Muslims barred from Myanmar poll, The anti-Rohingya sentiment has spilled into a broader ostracisation of the community across the country, Philip Sherwell, September 10, 2015
(21) Why won’t Aung San Suu Kyi say the word ‘Rohingya’? (COMMENTARY), Brian Pellot, December 4, 2014,

Parliamentary committee work

The House of Representatives has a system of committees which carry out investigations; conduct inspections; hear people’s views and proposals; analyses evidence; discuss and debate aspects of an inquiry in detail and report their conclusions. Depending on the inquiry topic, much of this work is done away from Canberra. The committees set up by the House (including some set up jointly with the Senate which also has its own committees) investigate matters of public policy, examine the activities of government and make recommendations for change. Committees are given wide powers of investigation. They are valuable vehicles for the receiving and giving of information and provide a direct link between Members and the Australian community. Each parliamentary committee consists of both government and non-government Members. Most Members of Parliament, except Ministers and some of the principal office holders, serve on committees. Backbench Members are generally members of more than one committee. Committee work is an important part of the duties of Members and makes considerable demands on their time. As well as attending meetings and public hearings, in order to make a contribution to the work of a committee, a Member must spend time studying the subject matter of the inquiry. The demands are greater on those Members who are committee chairs because they must lead the work of their committees and be the spokesperson for their work. Committee meetings are held in Canberra both when the House is meeting and at other times, and most committees also hold hearings, public meetings or informal discussions in a number of places throughout the country. At the conclusion of their investigations committees present a report to the House which may spend time debating it. At a later time the Government provides the House and the committee concerned with a response to the recommendations made by the committee.

What does a Member of Parliament do?

While there is no formal ‘job description’ that sets out what a backbench Member does, it is possible to identify aspects of work common to all backbenchers. A Member is expected to be a spokesperson for local interests; an ombudsman and facilitator who deals with concerns about government matters; a law maker; an examiner of the work of the Government and how it spends the money it raises from taxation; and a contributor to debates on national issues. If a Member has been elected with the support of a political party (as most are), he or she is also expected to participate in party activities. Most Members can thus be viewed as having three roles—that of parliamentarian, constituency representative, and party member. Each of these roles is examined in more detail below. The different roles can place competing demands on a Member’s time—for example, Members must leave their electorates to attend Parliament. When Parliament is not meeting, parliamentary committees on which they serve may be conducting inquiries in different parts of the country. Individual Members’ expertise or experience and the nature of their electorates can influence Members’ work priorities and their decisions as to where their most effective contribution can be made.

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