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Analysis by Htun Aung Gyaw Burma’s xenophobic Generals finally announced the electoral laws; the election commission law 1/2010 and political party registration law 2/2010, which people are waiting for since 2008. But, when we are looking at the laws, it gives us the dim hope for the real change in Burma. According to the election commission law, one needs to meet six characteristics to become the members and the chair of the commission, i.e. must 1. be fifty years of age 2. be famous and have the good reputation recognized by SPDC 3. have dignity, mature and well experience 4. be loyal to the nation and its citizens 5. not associate with political parties 6. not receive any salary and not occupied any wage earning position One might wonder how will the junta (SPDC) define the number two point, “famous and good reputation”, how will they identify the people as “famous” and how will they interpret “the definition of good reputation”. Junta will regard Zarganar (a) U Thuya as their enemy who earn good reputation among citizens for his opposition on regime’s crack down on Buddhist monks during the golden color revolution. Kyaw Thu, a well-known actor and well respected for his “Free Funeral Service”, has a good reputation among people and his efforts are well recognized by millions of Burmese inside and abroad. Kyaw Thu is famous and has good reputation among the people but he is very critical about the SPDC brutal suppression on Buddhist monks in September 2007 like Zarganar (a) U Thuya. Will he be recognized as the famous person who has good character and chosen as one of the commission members or the chairman of the commission. They won’t, I bet. But it they do, people might probably
have the slight confidence on their commission. Many people believed that the 2010 election commission members will be hand-picked by the junta (SPDC) like the previous commission members who followed whatever (SLORC) order them to do. The political party registration law is more interesting and revealed the true nature of the upcoming elections. In the law Chapter 1 mentions three religious groups: Buddhist, Christians and Hindu but fails to mention the Islamic group. Why does junta try to ignore the Islamic group? Do they want to please the West by doing so or they don’t care about Islamic groups? Or do they afraid of Islamic fanatic groups since Islam is not only the religion, but also it has a political goal to rule the country? Accordingly they are religious leaders as well as political leaders. The last paragraph of the Chapter 1 said, “The definition of a prisoner is who are serving respected jail terms, including those who appeal to the court, or who appeal for correction of the punishment”. This is obviously targeting Aung San Suu Kyi to exclude in the election. The Chapter II mentioned the requirement of the formation of a political party and registration. It has said that people who would like to form the political party need to qualify the facts mentioned in No. 4 and have to accept all the facts mentioned in No. 6. Why it is so important for SPDC and shall we find out what are the No. 4 and No. 6. In No. 4, it has eight requirements for those who would like to set up a political party. Within those eight categories (from A…to….H) D, E, F are targeted to the opposition groups. In D it said that civilian government employees will not have the rights to form the political party with the exception of the military personnel. According to the 2008 constitution; Army, Navy and Air Force get exemption from this obstruction and they can enter the political ground. Junta is doing this since civilian employees strongly support NLD party in 1990 election. So they are blocking the civilian support on NLD and effectively limit the civilian participation in the election.
The blunt obstruction of Aung San Suu Kyi to participate in the Burma’s democratization process can be seen at the category E, which stated that “the person who is in prison or serving prison terms could not have the rights to form the political party”. It means that NLD have to disassociate Aung San Suu Kyi as their leader or else it won’t qualify to register as the political party if they do wish to do so. In the category F, it stated that “those who are members of the arm resistance groups and those who have connection or supporting the illegal groups could not have the rights to form a political party”. According to this statement, SPDC will use this clause as their weapon to terminate any political party by accusing of accepting funds or personal donation if wanted to do so. The main trap can be seen in the No. 6, the category C, which stated that “all political parties have to accept, protect and safe-guard the 2008 Constitution” and must be signed the acceptance when submitting the application. This is total rejection of the NLD’s “Shwe-Gone-Dine” declaration which includes demanding to review junta’s 2008 constitution that has so many undemocratic clauses. This is junta’s bullying acts forcing NLD to accept the 2008 Constitution which is designed to legitimize military within Burma or face party dissolving. It is the clear signal from the military regime that it has no intention to negotiate with NLD for some changes in the constitution. Addition, junta is cornering NLD to tight situation like if you don’t take it and you will be the outlaw organization. If NLD does not accept the 2008 Constitution, it will be automatically banned by the regime as the legal political party. Even if NLD registered in the commission and does not participate in the election, the commission will terminate the NLD as the political party too. Now, it is time for NLD party to decide, “head to head or go under the foot”. Also in No.6 at the category “D” it stated that, “Writing, giving speeches, or organizing the mass are not permitted in the election if there is a possibility of conflicts by criticizing one race or one religion or an individual or the group of people to harm their reputation,
dignity and moral ethics”. It is showing that there is no freedom of speeches and no rights to criticize his/her opponents even if a person is morally corrupt or no ability to lead the country. It is one of the democratic principles which allow criticizing freely to its opponent for its incapacity to lead the country. People will choose who has the ability to lead or else. The government or the commission shouldn’t have the right to take away the freedom of speech, press, expression, publication or association. For instance, if the opponent is a thief, the candidates should have the right to say that his opponent is a thief even though his opponent has to suffer for his immoral act. Election means candidates have the right to defend themselves and attack their opponent that they are better than their opponent. People should have the rights to know the truth. But any accusation or criticism needs to prove that it is true. That is the meaning of democracy. In Category E, it stated that “do not misuse the religion for political benefit” which meant to block the Sangha Buddhist monks supporting NLD party and to those who pray in Pagodas for the release of political prisoners. Also SPDC will exploit this clause if they want to cease the NLD party existence by accusing them for being too close to the Buddhist groups. Addition, this clause can be used to accuse NLD of breaking the election law even if Buddhist monks support the party by themselves. On the other hand, SPDC support the Sangha Mahanayaka organization which has the power to control the monk’s groups by bribing the chief monks by donating cars, new building, foods and giving highest religious titles. SPDC told the monks not to support the NLD party and stay away from politics by bribing them with whatever they want. In Category F, it stated that “the SPDC will not allow political parties to accept funds or materials or other support directly or indirectly and using those materials under the influence of an organization, an individual, or a religious group from a foreign country or a foreign government”. Contrary to that SPDC backed political party, National Unity Party (NUP) received all the support from the junta and it is now starting its organizational tour while other parties are not allowed the same action.
Another odd thing can be seen in No.7 section C, it stated that “the political party will not allowed to registered if: the party is using directly or indirectly of the state funds, properties, vehicles, and materials” but in the Chapter III, No.12 after category 5, under the title exception (1) it said, “the meaning of stated funds did not mean to those who participate in a party to use their pension money and the reward money for him from the State for his good service”. It is the favoring clause for retired Generals and ministers who resigned from their position and enter the election by using state funds. Exception (2), it said, “The definition of state own land, houses, buildings, vehicles, things does not effect for persons from a party who are allowed to use those facilities under some laws or given as a duty by the government. Or some people from a political party pay a fee to rent it from the State own land, houses, buildings and rooms, other building and rooms, State own air planes, trains, ships, automobiles and materials will get an exempt from the restriction”. It means SPDC backed political party like NUP will have a full right to use all the facilities when others are restricted to do so. It happened in 1990 election and it will happen again in 2010. Even though NUP had all the support from the ruling council, they lost the election. In Chapter 3, under the title “Ceased to exist” it said at the beginning that, “If a political party did not participate in at least three constituencies, the party will be abolished” it mean even though you registered as a political party and will not participate in the election, your party will be abolished. All parties need to contest at least three constituencies. It is the differences between the past 1990 election and 2010 election. In 1990, as many as more than one hundred political parties participated in the election because SLORC (SPDC) wanted to confuse the voters. Now planned 2010 election is totally different; SPDC wants a few political parties this time. People know very well the truth and their tricks. The only thing junta will threaten people by using force to win the election. There is no way the election will be free and fair. In the last Chapter 5, under the title of “general” it said in (A) “the election committee decision is the final” and (B) “there is no appeal for the decision in the court”. This clause indicates that the hand pick
election committee members have sole rights to decide in the election and will favor whoever SPDC wanted to be elected. In conclusion, the election laws that released on March 8, 2010 have so many unjust restrictions to block the potential leaders in the opposition political parties, especially Aung San Suu Kyi and Khun Htun Oo. Election laws and regulations are not only unjust but also make no sense for the emergence of the democratic government. Also in Chapter II, clause No.6 has mentioned “4 times to accept and protect the 2008 Constitution” which indicates that SPDC is very serious not to accept any negotiation for changing some part of the constitution. SPDC will go on its own way to make the one-sided election to win them whatever it takes. It will not care about the foreign pressure because China, Russia, India and ASEAN are on its side. The US, EU and the West need to act with full power to isolate the regime with full fledge sanction and economic embargo, restriction on arm sale, freezing bank accounts on one hand and support the democratic forces including arm resistance groups which respect democratic values. It is time for NLD and opposition parties to unite as a coalition group to stand as one and prepare for the formation of an interim government, when time favors them will be ready to act swiftly. NLD need to register as a political party mentioning Aung San Suu Kyi as its leader even though the election laws restricted her let it is an outlaw political party. People will still recognize NLD as a political party and the world will not recognize the 2010 election and the new government. NLD need to believe to its people and its strength. Once ABSFU was formed in 1988, Min Ko Naing gave a speech, “when the wall is very thin and shaky, we will break the wall with our heads”. It is time! Htun Aung Gyaw President Civil Society for Burma
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