It’s not wrong to say enfranchising foreign residents is public desire- Chief Minister

The Rakhine State chief minister said it was not wrong to say that granting voting rights to foreigners holding white cards, who are applying for citizenship, is public desire, according to Mizzima Daily.

Maung Maung Ohn told the newspaper that enfranchising temporary citizens or white-card holders in the forthcoming referendum for charter change was public desire. 

“I don’t want to say about white card issue. It is the decision made by the state. Union parliament itself was elected by the people. So, it is not wrong to say that this is the public desire. Among the Rakhine nationals, we can say another problem has erupted before the existing problem has not yet been solved. As the chief minister of Rakhine State, I have to address the issue in a correct manner,” Maung Maung Ohn told The Mizzima. 

Major General Maung Maung Ohn served as border affairs minister before becoming chief minister in July last year. His support for Rakhine nationals has won him respect but his stance over the ethnic Rakhine has been questioned after protests against the enfranchisement of white-card holders. 

When asked whether he would run for the position again in this year’s general election, Maung Maung Ohn replied: "Honestly, I'm a soldier. That means I have to obey the orders of the state. So if the state gives me that task, I will perform it."

In February 6 edition of News Watch journal, a report featured Maung Maung Ohn saying that it was hard to nullify the effect of Parliament's approval of votes for white-card holders. 

"It's a bit delicate to reverse the proposal as it was passed in accordance with the law not to mention the approval of Parliament. It occurred to me that I have to try for the Rakhine nationals to meet this issue halfway as their chief minister. This is a matter for Rakhine nationals and therefore I will do what I can to make this work within the law," Maung Maung Ohn told News Watch journal.

White-card holders have been given votes under the 2008 referendum law, 2010 election law and 2012 by-election law. However, they are not mentioned in the 2008 Constitution and thus the approval for further votes could be unlawful.