MMPO under fire

The new executive board of the Myanmar Motion Picture Organisation chiefly consists of the same old members. (Photo - EMG)

The 19-member executive board of the Myanmar Motion Picture Organisation voted to re-elect Lu Min as chairman for a second term on Tuesday.

"We have re-organised the executive board today. All of the positions were selected through a voting system," said Aye Kyu Lay, one of the vice-chairmen of the MMPO, adding: "Some positions have three candidates, but selection was based on a vote."

The executive members have of late attracted criticism from all sides because the same old members have been re-elected to the executive board for a second time – so has their chairman. 

After the MMPO became a non-governmental organisation in 2012, it pledged to hold an election of new executives every two years. The executive board consists of 19 members, themselves professionals representing the 10 layers of the film industry: editor, actor, scriptwriter, producer, director, technician and cameraman. 

Each layer sends five to 10 candidates to run in an election to find new executive members. Only two from each of the layers are elected to the executive board in a vote by members of the MMPO. This year the producer layer sent one candidate. The executives then elect chairman.

The election of the MMPO’s executives was held for three days from January 22 to 24.  The point is despite a low turnout of MPO members on the voting day, the vote went ahead, the results were announced and the new executive board was formed yesterday.  

"The number of voters was significantly low. One of the reasons is lack of trust in the Election Commission. [The members] are not active anymore," said film-maker Wyne, one of the candidates in the election who failed to be elected [as an executive member]. 

"I believe the Election Commission should have held the election only after gauging the desire of the members. The majority of the members did not participate in the election. By looking at this [MMPO] election, I'm really worried about the upcoming national election. These people are experts in vote rigging. If people are fighting for power in a mere NGO like the MMPO, I'm worried about how they would cheat in the election where the highest position in the country will be elected," he added.

Although the MMPO this year invited all of its members to submit their candidates, the number of candidates was markedly low. This resulted in many of the incumbent executives, including chairman Lu Min, being re-elected. Lu Min himself once claimed that he was not interested in running for election for the top post again, which he eventually did “for the sake of the film industry”.

"I only decided to enter the election after thinking about it carefully. Even though this contradicts my earlier announcement in the media not to enter, and though I have been criticised for backtracking, I'm not doing this for my personal benefit. I believe the organisation still needs me," said Lu Min. 

Myint Oo Myint, who voted in the executive scriptwriter race, said: "I’ve come to cast my vote because I want to see new executives that will benefit the film industry. I don't know why the same people have been re-elected."

"They are doing this just to have a position in an NGO. People who don't attend meetings and don’t do anything have been re-elected. I'm sad that the people who would actually lift the standards of the film industry have not been elected. There have been mistakes made by the previous executives. That's why we don't have any hope for the MMPO and the future of the film industry," he said. 

Kyaw Lin Tun from Shwe Sin Oo Video Production also expressed his disappointment with the election.

"I don't know why they are pining for these positions. The eligible voter list is debatable. In our [video] department alone, only six people voted out of 60 eligible voters. That's only 10 per cent. We need to see whether they will confirm this or not," he said.

The MMPO and the Election Supervisory Commission that oversaw the election have been plagued with accusations of the lack of transparency. Their critics denounced the exclusion of technician awards at the [Myanmar] Academy Awards last month.

When the MMPO underwent a structural reform in 2012, Zin Wine was elected as chairman while Lu Min served as vice-chairman of the organisation. Caught in a storm of protest from the film industry, Zin Wine resigned his post, citing ill health, and Lu Min took over as chairman.

Some members of the Election Commission requested that the electoral decisions be revised in case less than 50 percent of the MMPO’s members cast their vote. Their proposal was turned down and the election has been held ever since under the existing rules and regulations.

"I didn't go to the election. I didn't cast my vote. The voters have already been persuaded. We are waiting to see what they will do with the results and act as necessary," said film-maker Maung Myo Min (Yintwinphit).