Group Changes Rules to Allow Political Participation

By Irrawaddy

The influential Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) changed its governing regulations at a meeting in Nayphidaw on March 31 to allow members to take part in politics.

The change is interpreted by observers as allowing influential businessmen to join political parties and to run as candidates in the 2010 national election.

According to participants at the meeting, UMFCCI bylaws had required members to resign if they joined a political party.

“No one from the organization is now prohibited by the regulations, so anyone can take part in the election,” said a businessman in Rangoon.

UMFCCI is made up of 18,300 members representing business people, factory owners and local traders.

Rangoon-based businessmen said the move was interpreted as allowing junta-friendly businessmen to run as supporters of the military government. However, well-informed sources said most local business people do not wish to take part in the election, even at the urging of the government.

“The military government founded the UMFCCI and the key players of the organization are supporters of the government, so nobody can say it is an anti-government organization,” said the owner of a construction company in Rangoon.

Currently, the UMFCCI chairman is Win Myint of Taze Township in Sagaing Division. Unconfirmed reports said Win Myint plans to run as a candidate for parliament from Taze Township in the forthcoming election.

The UMFCCI was founded in 1927 as the Burmese Chamber of Commerce. In 1989, one year after the Burmese junta seized power, it was reorganized as UMFCCI by traders and manufacturers across the country.

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