Mon Must Be Ruled by Mon

Mon Must Be Ruled by Mon

By Kaowao
Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mi Myint Than is a member of the Lower House of Parliament in Burma. She is 39 years old and the first ethnic Mon lady to join Burma’s Parliament. She graduated university in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, with a history degree. She was elected as an MP in Ye Township constituency during the 2010 election as a member of the All Mon Regions Democracy Party, which won 16 seats in parliament.

Question: Can you explain to your people what you are doing in the parliament and why?
Answer: I came here to serve my people. Let's say I am a slave of my people as they voted for me to work for them. I want to say to our people to inform us of what their needs and problems are, because I have not seen any of them yet come to me.

Mi Myint Than is a member of the Lower House of Parliament in Burma. (Photo: Reuters)
Mi Myint Than is a member of the Lower House of Parliament in Burma. (Photo: Reuters)

Q: There are not many Mon women who join the political process. In order to encourage more women to participate in politics, what do you want to say?
A: Our people have been oppressed for many years. They have fear in their minds about being involved in politics. I want to say to our women, the time is now to stop fearing as there is political change. I always tell my supporters this whenever I meet them.
Whenever I meet with NGOs who work with Mon women's networks I urge them to provide training and education for women in order to promote their capacity.

Q: Was it your own decision or somebody else's to become involved in politics?
A: I was interested in Mon issues since I studied Mon language when I got to 4th grade at government schools as a girl. After that, I served as a school teacher for a Mon school in Lamine (sub-township of Ye). But, I never thought I would be an MP one day, as I never thought that this country could undergo a political change.
I saw the political change as an opportunity to serve my people; also some other people suggested that I should take advantage of the changed conditions and that is why I joined the elections in 2010.

Q: Many people avoid political office because of the difficulties previously faced by others in the political process in the past, especially the effects on their families. Currently what challenges do you face in your role?
A: Our main challenge is how to communicate with our people. Very few people contact us. For instance, let's talk about Shan and Arakan MPs. Many of their constituents contacted them about what they wanted their MPs to do for them. If the land victims wanted to take back their land, which was confiscated by the army, the victims organized lists of the people and sent it to their MPs.
The Mon have not learned to take advantage of the process yet. I feel maybe our people may not know that they have rights to take back their land, of which thousands of acres of land have been confiscated by the army. I went to meet the land victims in our township (Ye) early in April during the break time at parliament. I told them to collect lists of the people and send it to me. But, I have not got anything yet from them. These are the sorts of problems we are facing in the job.  
I proposed the return of about 2,000 acres of confiscated land to parliament. These are the lands which were confiscated in my constituency. This doesn't include the Kawzar area (Kawzar is sub-township in Ye), where there was a lot of land confiscated. I can not work for that area as it is not my constituency, and we do not cooperate with them at this stage. This is why we have a problem without work in the parliament.

Q: This is the fourth session of parliament. The government says there is political change in the country. Do you see any positive changes?
A: From the beginning of the parliamentary sessions, whenever our democratic force has proposed issues  to discuss in parliament, the MPs from the USDP (the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)) have rejected it, by claiming it is not right time to discuss this issue. So, we have clashed with each other instead of cooperating.
For example U Thein Nyunt, an MP, raised the issue of tackling corruption, to abolish some restrictive laws at court and tackling the issue of Arakan conflict; only very few people supported this in the first session of parliament.
There are 400 MPs, and only 8 people supported his proposal at that time. These are the difficulties of operating in the parliament. But, this fourth session of parliament, after he submitted the proposal one more time, the parliament agreed to discuss the issue. For me, it seems there is more space in the parliament now.
Q: What is your point of view of the level which Mon politics has reached currently?
A: There was no one to listen or implement what we were saying before. But now with representation in the parliament, there is a possibility of taking action on issues such as land confiscation, road construction and applying for new phones.
We have chosen another way now in order to get more action quicker when we propose something. Instead of proposing it in parliament, we just talk directly to the head of ministry for some cases in order to be more effective. Sometimes, it takes a long time to solve problems when we propose it in parliament.
I proposed at this fourth session of parliament to provide full time electric power in Ye, and to have smooth transportation. I proposed on that July 2, and the ministers of the departments have already done an evaluation in order to implement the proposals.

Q: In order for the Mon to have strong political leadership, what do the Mon need to do, do you think?
A: All Mon need to participate in our politics in order to have strong leadership. What I found on the ground, many Mon women have a fear of joining in politics. But, they also think that it is a job for men to do politics, not for women. So, if all our people participate in politics, many of our women will have less fear and more of them will get involved.

Q: What are the beliefs behind your political philosophy?
A: I have always believed that I need to read a lot, ever since I was a child. Another of my belief, is that the Mon need to have self determination. We must have the right to decide our own fate. Mon must be ruled by Mon. This is the belief that I fight for.


Feedback From
Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Name of sender: anim
Email of sender: a_n88@gmail.com
COMMENTS: Congratulation MP Mi Myint Than for your achievement. You are an inspiration for many Mons. Mon people have been diagnosed with killer cancer for many years. They are very weak and some are dying from this illness. You are like a doctor and they the patients. They have found you and trusted you and put their lives in your hand. As you already know the symptoms of cancer, why wait until they tell you what to do? Why not start taking appropriate action to stop the cancer killing your patients?
Feedback From
Sun, Aug 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Name of sender: PA KAO
Email of sender: maw76maw@gmail.com
COMMENTS: Please help Mon to speak, write and read Mon language. Dear MP Mi Myint Than Congratulation and please us know that how can we help to create Peace once again for All .Currently there are many Mon can not speak Mon and to write and read too far away . We know that we have to fight to get our right to study Mon language in our daily school /outside school time is surely not enough. I love our country and love other ethnic too. Let's us free.

More articles from issue 04/2 More articles from issue 02/3
More articles from issue 04/2

- Divide of Opinion on Proposed Change to Burma’s Electoral System

- Armed Ethnic Conflict Potential Unlike Sri Lanka but Strong Ceasefire Agreements Still Needed for Efficient Peace Process

- Conference and Photography exhibit highlight Dangers of Dawei Seaport

- Land confiscation issue in Mon State addressed in Burma’s Parliament

- More Calls for Political Party Unification as New MDP Office Opens

- Dengue Outbreak in Mon State

- Mon Must Be Ruled by Mon (Interview)

- President To Offer Limited Rights To Teach Mon Language

- Government Denies Permission to Mark Martyr's Day in Ye Township

- “I do not want to let it Burn down like a Mon Monastery” says Ashin Nyanissara

- Mon Education Donations Don’t Reach MLCC Goal

- From Burma to Myanmar: Restoration of Burman Imperial Identity

- MNDF Party Returns after 22 Years with New Name

- AMDP Disagree To Join MDP

- 80 Families Forced To Move in Three Pagodas Pass Township

- NMSP Questions Effectiveness of Ethnic Conference

- Peace and National Army For Mon People

- Mon in Sangkhlaburi Celebrates Culture and Urges Preservation

- Aung Min promises “Death Railway” Reconstruction to Begin After Rain Subsides

- Peace Process Can’t Proceed Without Suu Kyi

- Anti-Drug Day Names Three Pagodas Pass as Key Drug Trafficking Corridor

- Low Salaries and Teaching Restrictions Pose Risks to Mon Literature and Language

- Government Using Development Projects to Eliminate Enemies, Says NMSP

- Rohingya Boat People Imprisoned by Burmese Immigration Authorities

- Mon to Prepare for Ethnic Constituency in Rangoon

- NMSP Holds Community Meeting in Sangkhlaburi

- The Role of Women in Local Peace and Development in Monland

- Still No Justice for Victim of Alleged Police Brutality

- MDP Travels to Naypyidaw to Receive Official Registration

- Can Enemies Become Friends?

- Security Concerns and Cancelled Speaking Engagements can't Dampen Jubilant Crowds at Suu Kyi Visit

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