Angry farmers are deserting the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party in Bago Region, claiming their local MP broke a promise to help them get their land back. Yesterday, 170 USDP members in Nattalin Township, Bago Region, resigned en masse.
Of more than 800 acres of farmland in Nattalin seized in 1995 by local government bodies, about 353 acres remain to be restored to their former owners, they say.
U Win Kyaw, a farmer and former senior USDP official in Shar Say Bo village, said the villagers were not satisfied with the party.
“They said the case was being dealt with by the administration sector and the party couldn’t do anything,” he said. “But they are the ruling party. Why couldn’t they do anything?”
U Win Kyaw said party officials had accepted the mass resignation.
The parliamentary land dispute investigation commission promised the villagers earlier this month that their land would be restored to them.
The farmers accused Union- and regional-level USDP politicians of letting them down. Nattalin Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Ye Htut Oo came in for particular criticism. “Before he was elected, he said he would do everything he could to advance our interests. But then he seemed to lose interest,” said Ko Htat Zaw Lin, a villager from Da Mah Nge who turned in his party card yesterday. The farmers also say that local township officials have been unhelpful.
“We believe the government departments at the township level are dishonest,” said U Myint Naing, a farmer from Ohn Hne Kan village.
U Aung Cho Oo, secretary of the party’s western Bago division, said the issue had not been raised within the party. “I think the process had been handled by the respective MPs,” he said, adding, “If they don’t trust the party any more, they have the right to resign.”
U Ye Htut Oo could not be reached for comment yesterday.