Afraid of being sandwiched

Wai Phyo
Myawady voters checking the voting lists. (Credit: Ko Shwe Thein)

Dear Saya U Mya Tun,

It’s nearly 40 days away to hold 2015 Election. At this time, you came into my mind as you have acted as Ahlon Township election Commission Chairman since 2010 and with a good record. Therefore, I am writing this article. I thank you for sharing your experiences when you worked at the Eleven Media Group with us for a long time. It’s been a long time we have seen each other since you retirement due to your weakening eyes.

Dear Saya,

Many complicated issues and doubts have and are rising now in regards to the election. I think you know these things more than me. For me, I’m anxious for distinguished and respectful Saya like you, doing your work correctly, may face misunderstanding from voters. I’m also anxious about what will happen on Election Day because we now faced problems like excluding in the voting lists and incorrectness in voting lists occurred. 

According to previous election record, in the Ahlon Township where you were assigned, Khing Maung Yee from National Democratic Force Party-NDF won over the candidate from Union Solidarity and Development Party. I’m proud of the good result you’ve done. I hope according to your good record, the commission you lead will do fulfill public expectations.

Dear Saya,

But Saya, let me tell you about several confusions in my mind. Why are many mistakes and incorrectness in voters’ lists announced by the Union Election Commission (UEC)?  Based on this incorrectness, why suspicions take place? As far as I’ve known, the UEC didn’t accept the census lists collected by Ministry of Immigration and Population Department and on its own, UEC collect data 66/6 Form (which is mostly called by officials of respective township/ward/ village 66/6 Form).Therefore, unnecessary mistakes occurred.

Later, organization like International Foundation for Electoral System-IFES, I knew that soft ware program was written for eligible voters lists.

Here, what I learned one thing is that, in census, only father’s name was included when collecting a person’s data. Mother name was excluded in census. But, in the soft ware used by your Commission, not only father’s name but also mother’s name was included. In that case, if a mother’s name was excluded, or left out, the voter’s name is also left out.

Now that arranging in alphabetical order from A to Z make more difficult to find a name.

Dear Saya,

The Election Commission may have laid strategies on how to handle the 2015 Election. Unrealistic and complicated matters lead incorrectness in voting lists. The entire Myanmar faced these problems. As far as I’ve known, some directions are not reasonable. When announcing the voting lists, only political parties can see the lists and the government don’t give the right to copy the lists. Later, what they said is you can take photograph but hand scan is prohibited. Then, the UEC said political parties are allowed for hand scan but your announcement didn’t reach even to ward or village tract commission members and misunderstanding arose. Finally, the Commission allowed copying the voting list by CD. Even in the single step, there came much mismanagement and I realized now that there’s no wonder many problems happened nowadays.

Dear Saya,

What I would like to know is how much budget is used, which is the most important for realizing the fundamental voting list. There are no clarifications about the budget. The amount of budget by UEC in ordinary expenditure is Ks.49, 555.295 million and capital expenditure is Ks.1, 729.900 million. Altogether there is Ks.51, 285.195 million. I also knew that UEC received numerous amount of international assistance. According to news, among the U.S $ 40 or 50 million donated by USAID, British Aid, Australian Aid and Norway and other countries, nearly U.S $20 were already spent.

Although I wanted to make harsh criticisms on why UEC made much incorrectness in voting list although they used a lot of fund, when I thought of some people from the basic level working in township/ ward/ village tract, I felt sorry for them. Because I knew that the people in these levels got no permanent salary, but got expense of Ks.1700 when attending a meeting and travel allowance for Ks.400, altogether Ks.2100.

What I knew is UEC Chairman got Ks. 3 million per month, no need to pay for living expenses as he and his family is living in government’s building, free expense for furniture for the house, free medical coverage for international and domestic, free of charge for using water, electricity, phone bills, appointing of personal secretary, two maids, two cooks, four vehicles, and above all 60 gallons of fuel each for these 4 vehicles. Besides, I knew that members of UEC got the privileges equal to the union deputy minister.

Later, I knew more about people working at the basic level in township/ ward/ village tract. In the budget allotted to respective townships, expenses for buying stationery, fuel, phone bills were allowed. In these days, 3 men were allowed for assign duty per day according to township/ ward/ village tract. Each was given Ks. 3000 per day for not more than 21 days. I now know and sympathize with the situation of people working at township/ ward/ village tract as they have to choose MP who will get Ks. 1 million per month, plus daily expense for whenever attending parliament meeting, which will approximately be Ks. 1.6 million per month.



Dear Saya,

I pray that in respective township/ ward/ village tract commission members, there are people like you who stand for people suitably and dignified people like you. I don’t wish for unnecessary problems to happen due to unclear manners such as incorrectness in voting list by UEC. According to UEC Chairman Tin Aye, I worried that how much of eligible voters may lost as there are many complicated things happened in voting list.

Although there are notices to look for voting list, if one’s name is omitted from the voting list, there may be some who think going through procedure like applying Form(3), (4) is complicated and avoid doing so. In that case, eligible voters may lose. In some cases, although amending is made, there is still incorrectness. Originally some are correct, but they are again incorrectness. It is not the fault of the suspicious people. If the UEC systematically did since collecting the voting list, and if there is no big mistakes, there won’t be unnecessary problems like now and doubts and suspicions may avoid.

Next, I think, you’ve read a letter of Tun Tun Lin, chairman of No-13-Hlaing Township UEC sub-commission to UEC Chairman Tin Aye on his Facebook.

A letter stated that “he believed the November 8 election will be very important for Myanmar. To hold an election, it is very essential to collect a right voter list. The collection of right voter list is a duty of respective sub-election committees. The sub-election committee must gather voter list in accordance with the ground situation. In the first time of voter list announcement, it included voter list errors. But, again in the second time announcement, many errors of eligible voter lists included. It can be said that second time voter list announcement made far too many mistakes to be called a voting list.

Moreover, Tin Aye, Chairman of Union Election Commission (UEC) said that only 30% can be right in the voter lists. His speech reflected no responsibility for his duty as UEC chairman. It couldn’t blame on voters as they couldn’t came for the voter list. As for the UEC, they must take responsibility to collect exact eligible voter lists. By looking at is, it is clearly seen that the officials from sub UEC commissions know that they didn’t want to be face to face with the public.

 Dear Saya,

For a change of a Nation, as for UEC which used hundreds billion of Kyats for holding election, they made many mistakes as well as their voter lists are very complicated. It is not the fault of critics on the question of whether the election is a genuine one. Even for voting, there are many confused and complicated things happen and to become a free and fair election, UEC is solely responsible for all the things that occur.

Taking and keeping responsibility of those officials are played a vital role. UEC needs to settle the current voter list errors and not to lost chances of voting for public because public understand very well how the election is very important for a change of our country. So, we didn’t want to lose voting chance due to the announcement of complicated voter lists. Those eligible voters want to cast a vote in the Election Day. If the eligible voters can’t get a chance for voting, what will happen?

Every person who made threats or violence against right of voting, election and making bribes and corruption must be sentenced an imprisonment  not more than one year or fined not more than one lakh or given both jail term and fine in accordance with the Chapter-13 of Pyithu Hluttaw’s Election Law, electoral crimes and punishments and Section-57. I hope you knew the rules Saya.

Dear Saya,

I sincerely am anxious that men of dignity like you who stand correctly and work for the people may get sandwiched between misdeeds of UEC and problems that rose. That’s my true good will Saya.