Monday, August 02, 2010

Burma Election Campaign Not Free and Fair

E-mail Print PDF
Hits smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon

Download All though there is still no date for the election, politically campaigning has begun across Burma.

There are 37 other new political parties and five existing groups that have registered to contesting in the poll that is expected to be held later this year.

They include Pro-military, pro-democracy and ethnic parties.

As Banyar Kong Janoi reports from Rangoon is not a free and fair campaign.

On the street of Rangoon, people are indecisives about what party they are going to vote for in the election.

A university student, Moe Kyaw says he will not take part.

“I don’t know who to vote for because I don’t like any party. I like the National League for Democracy Party but their break away party seems vague. I have to wait and see what they can do. Properly, they can do nothing for the people so I will not vote for anyone.”

Opposition parties are finding it very hard to campaign. They are being severely restricted by the military government.

Opposition party flags and posters are only allowed to be displayed in their private offices.

All printed material has to pass the State Security Censorship Board before bring distributed.

And the media is control by the military government.

50 years old Hla Thein is a influencial leader the in Mon State. He says his community doesn’t know about the poll.

“We don’t have a space to move and to speak about politics so many of people are no longer interested. Noone has told us what is happening with this upcoming election. Nobody knows what the election will mean to their everyday life. them. They also don’t know about how to cast their vote.”

Despite the restrictions opposition parties are campaigning in many parts of the country.

But they can’t reach many areas because of a lack of resources.

However, the pro junta party- Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)- is free to campaign and lure certain groups to join the party.

Party members enjoy cheap mobile phone rates and have been given credit loans from the state bank.

Mon ethnic elder Hla Thein again.

“The military regime has it worked out that the parties supporting them will win. The pro-junta party will get money from the state budget to use for its campaign. They even can organize people freely while other opposition parties are struggling for funds and are not free to organizing people. It is very hard for the opposition groups to win the polls.”

Despite all the obstacles being place in front of them opposition parties still believe they can win votes.

Nai Ngwe Thein is a leader of All Mon Region Party which will contest on the poll.

“We have been told what we can and can not do. We have to report where we are going to and how many people are at our meetings. The pro Pro-junta party has been campaigning long before they got a permit to run as a party. But we are not afraid because many people don’t like their party. People will only vote for the pro-junta party if they are are threatened. Our job is to tell people not to be afraid. We will win if there is a fair election.”

Nai Tun a resident in Mon State says he will vote no matter what.

“Although we know this election is not fair, we will vote for the Mon party because they care about our people.”

The National Democratic Force, the break-away party from Aung San Suu Kyi’s is trying to convince it’s supporters that the election is a step towards democracy and justice in Burma.

U Khin Maung Swe is the leader of the party. I spoke to him on the phone as it was too dangerous for us to met.

“We will see the result after the people cast their vote. If all democratic forces including ethnic democracy parties win a large number of seats in the parliament we can change the constitution. And we can change the laws to benefit the people and amend the laws that oppress the people as well.”

Nai Rot Khine a university student in Mon State also has some hope that the election may bring about much needed change.

“Although good and bad always come together. I would say this election is a first step forward in breaking burma’s political deadlock. To create a true election atmosphere the military regime should allow all parties to organize people and should give press freedom so the media can investigate any issue in the country.”

For Asia Calling, this is Banyar Kong Janoi in Rangoon.