The BNI Election Newsroom recently interviewed Salai Ceu Bik Thwang, general secretary of the Chin National Democratic Party (CNDP), for his thoughts on why ethnic Chin parties failed to gain seats in state polls during the election.
CNDPs secretary Salai Ceu Bik ThwangQ: The CNDP was defeated in all of the 55 seats in Chin State. What would you like to say about this?

A: The first thing I would like to say is we accept these results. We respect the voters’ right to choose. Even before the election started and we were campaigning some asked for our permission to vote for Daw Aung Suu Kyi and the NLD. They wanted to stand behind the party one last time. I feel positively about the NLD winning. We have achieved our party’s first goal which was to remove the USDP created by the military government.

Q: The NLD won a landslide victory in the election. The only ethnic parties that did well were the Arakan National Party (ANP) and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD). Now that the USDP has been defeated what should happen next for the country to move forward?

A: With the NLD winning the 2015 Election the first thing we need to think about is preventing what happened in 1990 Election (the junta refused to accept that the NLD won). We need to move forward on a new path with new ideas. The current government and Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) will have to accept the results. Our party feels very positively about this. However, we must not be negligent (with commitments made) especially the NLD that will form the next government. Even though they won, they need to be high minded. I also want to request that both the Tatmadaw and government keep their promise by respecting the public’s decision.

Q: Aside from the Zomi Congress for Democracy (ZCD), Chin State residents didn’t vote for Chin parties. Do you have anything you want to say about this?

A: I am divided on this. On one hand I’m happy and proud that other ethnic parties have won, even though we didn’t win. I think of members of ZCD as our brothers. No matter what name they have given their party, I see Zomi as part of our Chin tribe. I expect we can work for unity amongst Chin people. But our party won’t accept issues that could create bad blood between our people like changing the name of the Chin State to Zomi State. Other Chin people will not like this either and I want ZCD party leaders to take heed of choosing such actions.

Q: What is the CNDP’s plans leading up to the next election date in 2020?

A: Even though parliamentary politics are important, they are not enough on its own. If one looks at what we achieved as a party starting in 2010 it’s clear we have achieved many things outside of Parliament. Working with social organizations, we successfully stopped the Mway Taung Hpar Taung project. Additionally our party submitted protest letters to the government about many issues affecting our people. These include examples of religious oppression in the Chin Hills like when a crucifix was slated for destruction and slander against ethnic Chin by P Moe Nin in his novel ‘Ga Naing Kyawt’ (published in state-run media). Even though we didn’t win seats there are many things we can do to help our people. While it is important for us to enter Parliament there are ways we can be politically involved on a national level. The CNDP will continue to engage in political dialogue and support constitutional amendments. We also have plans to expand our party membership.