Thursday, 9 June 2011

Govt. Pressure Wrecks NLD Study Program

In this photo taken on November 19, 2010, members of National League for Democracy (NLD) sell posters of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her father general Aung San in front of their main office in Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

Foreign scholars withdrew from a planned study meeting at the National League for Democracy (NLD) headquarters after pressure from the Burmese government, according to sources.
Win Htein, of the NLD, told The Irrawaddy that many scholars were very keen to come and meet the opposition party's leader Aung San Suu Kyi and train its members, but their planned visit had to be been canceled.
The group were due to lecture students at the Bayda Institute from June 6 to 25 before addressing NLD members from June 20 to 28, but now even the first session has been moved to pro-government NGO Myanmar Egress instead.
“I think Kyaw Yin Hlaing, who currently works in Hong Kong, is afraid the government will revoke his passport if he speaks to NLD members. If Kyaw Yin Hlaing came to visit the NLD he could get into trouble, but he should still take the risk to find out what the result would be,” said Win Htein.
Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing is director of Myanmar Egress and also assistant professor of the Department of Asian and International Studies at the City University of Hong Kong.
Myanmar Egress is controversial for being closely associated with individuals connected to the Burmese Chamber of Commerce, and Kyaw Yin Hlaing also supported last year's sham election in Burma.
Htike Zaw Oo, from Tavoy Township, Tenasserim Division, is studying at the Bayda Institute and says he feels cheated by the renowned foreign-based professors who have shunned the seat of learning.
“At first we were very happy that professors from foreign countries would be teaching us. We have been preparing for the training for nearly three months. But when the fixed date arrived they [professors] canceled these plans very easily,” said Htike Zaw Oo.
The NLD study course on “the principles of political science” was the first offered by the party for two decades and was scheduled to be taught by almost a dozen foreign scholars. Young NLD members from across Burma have already arrived in Rangoon to attended the session.
“The teachers did not arrive at the opening ceremony of the Badya Institute and it is hard for them to come to the NLD. Although they did not come to the opening of the Bayda Institute, they are still teaching at Myanmar Egress. It is like a balloon which has been pierced with a needle,” said Win Htein.
“We have been planning this tuition since March but Kyaw Yin Hlaing said on the phone that he cannot give the lecture because the government put pressure on him. The professors would be teaching at Myanmar Egress and Bayda at the same time,” said Myo Yan Naung Thein of Bayda Institute.
The Irrawaddy contacted Kyaw Yin Hlaing but he refused to comment.
Burmese scholars Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Tin Maung Maung Than and US attorney Thi Han Myo Nyun will all contribute to the training program.
They will be joined by foreign scholars Robert Taylor, Robert Gregory, Martin Painter, Mark Thompson, Federico Ferrara and Brad Williams from City University of Hong Kong; Michael Montesano from Singapore's Institute of South East Asia Study; Eric Thompson from the National University of Singapore; and N. Ganesan from the Hiroshima Peace Institute in Japan.

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