Sunday, November 7, 2010

Burma's election

Today will be Burma's first election in 20 years. The multi-party general elections are scheduled to be held in Burma (officially Myanmar) on 7 November 2010, in accordance with the new constitution which was approved in a referendum held in May 2008. The general election forms the fifth step of the seven-step "road map to democracy" proposed by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in 2003, the sixth and seventh steps being the convening of elected representatives and the building of a modern, democratic nation, respectively. The date of the election, 7 November, was announced by the SPDC on 13 August, 2010.

The voting begins despite the criticism of unfair election,the ruling military is expected to emerge as the winner. The junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) is contesting in 1,112 out of 1,159 seats. They are able to contest all seats, why not all? The seats uncontested by them, is their strategy to allow for some pro-government opposition seats, to form an image that there is still democracy in Burma, and there is opposition voice. The Junta will still rule Burma after election. But many Burmese still hope that some change toward democratic reform might nonetheless follow. That is their hope....

Some 40,000 polling stations across the Southeast Asian country opened on Sunday shortly after 6am local time (23.30 GMT) and were to close 10 hours later. The time of announcement of election results not make known to the public, the regime has not said when results would be announced, this will provide comfort zone for them to make political move on the election results. But it was almost certain that the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) would emerge as the victor despite widespread popular opposition to 48 years of military rule.

The USDP is fielding 1,112 candidates for the 1,159 seats in the two-house national parliament and 14 regional parliaments. Its closest rival, the National Unity Party with 995 candidates, is backed by supporters of Burma's previous military ruler. The largest opposition party, the National Democratic Force, is contesting just 164 spots. On the number seats contested, the opposition is not able to form any government even they have won all the seats. The opposition candidates have had to abandon campaigns because they could not afford the $500 registration fee, several months' wages for most Burmese. Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Aung San, the general who won Burma its independence and the country's greatest hero, is prohibited from contesting this election under new electoral laws, because she is serving a custodial sentence. She is due to be released six days after the poll. A tactical move by the Junta.

The last election held in 1990, was comprehensively won by the National League for Democracy, led by the country's most famous democracy champion, Aung San Suu Kyi. But the NLD was never allowed to take power. Today Suu Kyi is under house arrest, the NLD is a banned organization, and millions of Burmese will boycott the poll at her suggestion.

Veteran dissident, U Win Tin however pleads with young people in Burma not to vote in poll. U Win Tin is the prominent former political prisoner, insists jail is no deterrent in battle to oust the military regime. U Win Tin is the most prominent campaigner for democracy in Burma, which is controlled by a military regime, and spent 19 years behind bars. In an impassioned call to his people ahead of an election on Sunday that has already been decried as a sham by international observers, U Win Tin called for a boycott of the vote.

"It is the only thing left to us: there is no hope to come from voting for this party or that party. This government aims to win, and it is so detested that it is impossible for us to do anything but boycott," he said. "Of course it is not safe to stay at home and not go to the polling stations and people will be worried that they will be punished, but the military junta wants to claim this election as free and fair and so we have to reduce the legitimacy of that claim by not taking part at all."

The authorities were closing down phone lines in some townships across Burma on Saturday while cyber net attacks, closing down internet access, have been reported. Other ballot rigging has been already seen, with reports of villages and barracks being called out to "pre-vote" for the government-backed Union and Solidarity Development Party.

But some are still taking the chance to participate in the election, as they said it may be the first move to democracy, and even the space is small it is a good start for the country.

Another question is, is the Junta the legitimate government to allow the election? National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi won the election in 1990. National League for Democracy is the legitimate government under democracy, their government in exile should be the legitimate government, if there is any. The party that won the election(elected by the people) was not given the power to rule the country by the Junta. They are still the legitimate government, not the Junta, so Junta has no power to call for a election, as they are not the legitimate government, and the election is illegal. Legally the election results will not be legitimate. If there is no government in exile, I wonder why the international community did not support one, which should be waiting to take over the power when the Junta collapse. Is the international community really care? The so called global superpowers are more concern in East Asia, Middle East; than the small country like Burma..... where there is petrol or strategic interests now....

Will the Junta really return the power to the people?, the answer is slim, but it is hope that it is an initial step to democracy for Burma..... or is it another "legitimate mandate" for the Junta to rule after the election, and the international community will have the "legitimate reason" to accept them?...... just hope that it is not another part of global political games of superpowers....

Personally I am more concern for the minority; and the Panglong Agreement; will the democracy return to the spirit of Panglong or a new agreement be negotiated for the new Burma? Democracy without peace is demon go crazy ......without peace after democracy, there is always platform for military power...

We remember you, Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, especially Shan, Chin, Mon, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin....We pray for Aung San Suu Kyi to be released on 13-11-2010, the world is waiting for the release, and to see the real changes in Burma......

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2. Burma election 2010;

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