- Veteran Myanmar politician says gov’t
party to win
- Numbers stacked against Myanmar
opposition, party leaders say
- Burma suspends visas on arrival
- Junta sets new BGF deadline for
ethnic armed groups
- State censor bans use of bamboo-hat
- Two major Indonesian banks to open
offices in Myanmar
- Burma-Timor Leste forge closer ties
- Election results will be predictable
- Is Burma on the verge of
- Myanmar lays down stringent campaign
rules for November election
- Rights to assemble and canvass for
- NLD election boycott official
- The end of the DKBA?
- Myanmar’s politics and economy: A new
day beckons, sort of
- U.S. to Back Human-Rights Inquiry in
- Obama wants Burmese rulers to face UN
war crimes investigation
- Upholding the Responsibility to
Protect in Burma
- Human rights law is the only thing
that will frighten the generals
- TUC calls for Barclays to come clean
- Breakaway party expects to field 100
candidates in Myanmar polls
- 4 new private banks open in Myanmar’s
- Judge criticises US over ’soft’ fine
for Barclays Bank
- Political parties face old foes of
time and money
- Death railway in Burma’s Shan State
- Burma to lease over 100,000 acres of
Arakanese land to Vietnam
- Constitutional truth or trick?
Veteran Myanmar politician says
gov’t party to win
The Associated Press: Mon 23 Aug 2010
YANGON, Myanmar — A veteran politician contesting Myanmar’s upcoming
elections said Sunday the political party backed by the ruling military
junta will easily win the most seats because challengers face financial
and other handicaps.
Thu Wai, chairman of the newly formed Democratic Party (Myanmar), said
the challenger parties can field candidates in less than half of the
national and regional constituencies.
But the junta’s backing gives the Union Solidarity and Development
Party, led by Prime Minister Thein Sein, access to money and a national
presence, and the party is widely expected to receive the most votes.
The Nov. 7 elections are the first in impoverished Myanmar in two
decades. The National League for Democracy party of detained democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which overwhelmingly won the last elections in
1990 but was barred by the military from taking power, has decided to
boycott the polls.
“By creating obstacles to other political parties before the election,
it won’t be necessary to cheat or rig votes in the election as the USDP
is getting the upper hand. Thus voting (itself) will be free and fair,”
Thu Wai said.
All candidates contesting the polls must pay the Election Commission a
deposit of 500,000 kyat ($500), more than half a year’s salary for an
Thu Wai, 77, is a longtime democracy activist and former political
prisoner. His party’s executive secretaries include former Prime
Minister U Nu’s daughter Than Than Nu, former Prime Minister Ba Swe’s
daughter Nay Yee Ba Swe, and Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, the daughter of a
former deputy prime minister.
Thu Wai said that out of the more than 1,100 seats in the national
parliament and regional parliaments, other political parties may be
able to field candidates in just 500 constituencies, leaving more than
“Since the Election Commission has given us only two weeks to submit
the candidate list, our capacity to field candidates has been greatly
reduced, as we are short of cash and time,” said Thu Wai, adding that
his party may be able to field around 100 candidates, though it had
planned on more.
Some 47 political parties have registered to contest the elections and
so far 41 have been permitted.
Election laws passed ahead of the voting have been criticized as
undemocratic by the international community. They effectively bar Nobel
Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi and other political prisoners – estimated
at more than 2,000 – and members of religious orders from taking part
in the elections. Suu Kyi’s party was automatically disbanded under the
laws for refusing to register for the elections.
Numbers stacked against Myanmar
opposition, party leaders say
Asia-Pacific News: Mon 23 Aug 2010
Yangon – Myanmar’s pro-democracy parties are set to field candidates in
only around half of the constituencies in November’s election, due to
the limited time and resources available for preparation, political
sources said Sunday.
The shortage of opposition candidates could leave their junta-backed
rivals running unchallenged for many of the seats in the lower and
upper house and regional parliaments, in Myanmar’s first general
election for 20 years.
‘We have about 100 candidates, and I think altogether there will be
about 500 candidates for all the democratic forces,’ said Cho Cho Kyaw
Nyein, secretary of the Democratic Party.
‘The total candidates required for all constituencies and all
parliaments are about 1,100,’ said Cho, who complained that parties had
not been given enough time to prepare.
The polls, scheduled for November 7, were only announced on August 13.
Funds were also lacking to register enough candidates, he said. ‘To
register one candidate costs 500 dollars which is a huge amount in a
poor country like Burma,’ Cho told the German Press Agency, dpa.
‘Meanwhile, the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party
[USDP] is very rich, with full support from the government. We can’t
compete with them.’
The USDP, which claims to have about 26 million members in a country of
60 million, on Friday opened about 400 offices nationwide. The party,
led by ex-military officers, is deemed the political wing of Myanmar’s
military establishment which was ruled the country since 1962.
‘USDP will compete in all places, but we can’t. That means USDP will
win without any competitions in some constituencies,’ Democratic Party
chairman Thu Wei told a press conference.
The Democratic Party is led by Than Than Nu and Nay Yee Ba Swe,
daughters of ex-Prime Minister U Nu, and Nay Phoo Ba Swe, daughter of
ex-Prime Minister Ba Swe.
The party is closely allied with the National Democratic Force party, a
breakaway faction of the National League for Democrcay (NLD), led by
Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Myanmar independence hero Aung San.
The NLD and Suu Kyi said they plan to boycott this year’s polls.
Myanmar last held a general election in 1990, which was won by the NLD.
But the military have blocked the NLD and Suu Kyi from power for the
past two decades.
Few observers expect November’s election to bring about genuine
A clause in the new constitution allows the military control over any
future elected government by making the upper house of the National
Parliament a partially junta-appointed body with veto power over
Burma suspends visas on arrival
Radio Australia: Mon 23 Aug 2010
Burma’s military junta has suspended visas on arrival for tourists from
The suspension is being seen as a move by the junta to prevent outside
reporters and monitors from entering the country ahead of the November
Many foreign journalists traveled to the country on tourist visas
during a monk-led political protest in 2007 and when Cyclone Nargis hit
Journalists and observers granted official visas are accompanied by
minders, thus restricting movement and observation.
Burma has yet to respond to the regional group ASEAN’s offer to send
observers during the elections.
The elections, the first since 1991 are widely seen as an elaborate
charade aimed at cementing the army’s grip on power and attracting
Junta sets new BGF deadline for
ethnic armed groups – Hseng Khio Fah
Shan Herald Agency for News: Mon 23 Aug 2010
The ruling Burmese military junta has scheduled another deadline on the
Border Guard Force (BGF) issue for two of Burma’s ethnic ceasefire
groups: the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic
Alliance Army (NDAA) aka Mongla group at its latest meeting on 20
August, according to sources from the Sino-Burma border.
The two have been ‘instructed’ to give their acceptance on transforming
themselves into the BGF by the first week of September, said a source
from Shan State North’s Tangyan, where the meeting between the UWSA and
Lt-Gen Ye Myint, Chief of Military Affairs Security (MAS), was held.
In keeping with Naypyitaw’s invitation, the UWSA and NDAA on 20 August
met junta’s negotiators led by Lt-Gen Ye Myint and Maj-Gen Kyaw Phyoe,
Commander of Golden Triangle Region Command respectively on the same
day, but at different venues.
The UWSA led by Bo Lakham, Chairman of the Political Consultative
Conference, met Lt-Gen Ye Myint at Tangyan, 83 miles southwest of Shan
State North’s capital Lashio for about half an hour from 9:30 to 10:00
and the NDAA led by its Vice Chairman Khun Hsang Lu and Sai Kham Mawng,
Deputy Commander of General Staff, met Maj-Gen Kyaw Phyoe at Shan State
East’s capital Kengtung at 13:00 (local time).
“At the meeting between Ye Myint and the UWSA, Ye Myint said that the
election was drawing near so he would urge the UWSA to reconsider its
decision on the BGF before the polls,” the source said.
If the groups failed to convert themselves into BGF by the deadline
again, it will be automatically designated as “an unlawful association
or illegal organizations.”
Nevertheless, Panghsang was said to have given no response to Ye Myint
other than saying they were not authorized to make any decision without
their supreme leader’s guidance.
Mongla was given the same message like Panghsang, said an informed
source. “The group just said that they had nothing new to inform.”
Concerning the BGF program, many deadlines had been set for the
ceasefire groups, and the latest was 28 April 2010. But after the 28
April deadline, the junta and ethnic ceasefires groups met a couple of
times; one was in May and the second was in June 22. According to the
resolution from the 22 June meeting, there would be no new deadline for
the groups because the military junta would just hand it over to the
new government to handle if the elections are held.
Anti-BGF programme groups are: the UWSA, the MNDAA, Kachin Independent
Army (KIA), Shan State Army (SSA) ‘North’’s First Brigade, the Kayan
New Land Party (KNLP) and New Mon State Party (NMSP). All decided to
remain unchanged unless their autonomy demands are met and they will
not also support or participate in the general elections.
The UWSA and NDAA said they will be up holding the following four
principles: 1) will not surrender, 2) will not transform into BGF
unless their autonomy demands are met, 3) will not shoot first, but
they are ready to protect themselves and they will not secede from the
Union, sources said.
State censor bans use of
bamboo-hat logo – Khai Suu
Mizzima News: Mon 23 Aug 2010
New Delhi – Burma’s state censor has banned news journals using in
their reporting the seal and logo of the party that broke away from
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, National
Democratic Front party leader Khin Maung Swe said.
The Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, the Burmese junta’s
censor board had cut the NDF’s bamboo-hat logo from interviews and news
presented by Rangoon-based journals Monitor, Hot News and The Voice
weekly since the first week of this month, he said.
“Some journals could report only interviews; some journals could report
both interviews and use the logo. The journals replied that the logo
was deleted by the censor board when it was contacted,” NDF party
leader Khin Maung Swe told Mizzima.
Sources close to the journals confirmed the ban.
“We presented our draft copy of interviews and the bamboo-hat logo but
the censor deleted both interviews featuring the NDF and the logo,” an
editor with links to these journals said.
“We can print the seals and logos of other parties … As far as we know,
they even turned down the draft copy attached with the clippings of
state-run media bearing this logo,” a source close to Hot News told
The NDF said the censor had restricted news coverage containing its
logo, though the seals and logos of other parties remained unaffected
by the restriction, adding that the party should be allowed the same
freedoms as other officially registered parties.
The party said the logo and seal was permitted in the media only when
the dispute between the NDF and NLD arose. The Monitor denied the claim.
“Why should the logo recognised and permitted by the [election]
commission be banned? No, the censor board permitted our journal and
other journals to cover the news and its logo,” Monitor editor-in-chief
Myat Khaing told Mizzima. Last month’s issue of the journal was allowed
to cover NDF news and use its logo and bamboo hat.
Censor board section head Yu Yu Win said: “I think this logo might also
have appeared in other journals. We permit these logos if they are
officially recognised by the [electoral] commission. I can say only
The dispute of using this logo arose when the NDF applied for party
registration with the electoral commission, which permitted use of the
logo. The commission however failed to communicate its approval to the
censor board, a source close to the censor said.
Similarly, Snapshot journal was barred from running an interview with
NDF party chairman Dr. Than Nyein two months ago, a source close to the
“It seems the authorities are building more hurdles … for our election
campaign as the polling date draws nearer,” Khin Maung Swe said.
The NDF will field about 100 candidates in the election, which is to be
held on November 7.
Two major Indonesian banks to
open offices in Myanmar
Xinhua General News Service: Mon 23 Aug 2010
Two major Indonesian banks are planning to open offices in Myanmar to
help promote bilateral trade relations between Indonesia and Myanmar,
the local Flower News quoted the Indonesian Embassy as reporting Monday.
The report did not name the banks intending to make the move.
Entrepreneurs from Myanmar and Indonesia have been seeking bilateral
economic and trade cooperation with an Indonesian economic delegation
having met with businessmen from the Union of Myanmar Federation of
Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Yangon in February this year to
discuss further prospects for such cooperation.
The Indonesian entrepreneurs were made up of those from various sectors
such as foodstuff, textile, construction materials, furniture,
handicraft, mines, medicine and medical equipment, cosmetic, airline
As part of their efforts to boost bilateral economic and trade
cooperation, Myanmar and Indonesia have sought direct trade link,
direct banking transaction and direct Yangon-Jakarta air link.
So far, the two countries are trading through Malaysia, carrying out
banking transaction through Singapore and connecting without direct air
Indonesia has established the first direct sea trade route with Myanmar
operating between Jakarta and Yangon in a bid to broaden its network in
the Southeast Asian region. The route enables Myanmar export goods to
be shipped directly to Indonesia without requiring to transit through
Direct trade link between Bandung and Yangon is also being sought.
Indonesia is Myanmar’s fourth largest trading partner among members of
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after Thailand,
Singapore and Malaysia, having a bilateral trade with Myanmar standing
178.8 million U.S. dollars in the fiscal year of 2009-10 which ended in
March. Indonesia’s exports to Myanmar amounted to 140.8 million
dollars, while its imports from Myanmar were valued at 38 million
dollars, according to Myanmar official statistics.
Burma-Timor Leste forge closer
ties – Simon Roughneen
Irrawaddy: Mon 23 Aug 2010
Bangkok — Burma Foreign Minister Nyan Win concluded a three-day
goodwill visit to Timor Leste on Sunday, after being met by protestors
at Dili’s international airport on Friday.
According to a Timorese journalist who requested that his name not be
used, a small group of mainly university students clashed with police
at Presidente Nicolau Lobato Airport on Friday.
Juvinal Diaz, who attended the demonstration, said that although the
rally was peaceful, police seized banners and placards protesting the
visit. Nyan Win was unable to leave the airport for more than an hour
while the demonstration took place.
The visit comes as Timor Leste, the official name for the country also
known as East Timor, continues its quest for membership in the
Association for Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Dili needs agreement
from all current Asean member-states before it can join.
Speaking on Friday, Timor Leste President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta said,
“We want to increase our relations,” adding that “this is in accordance
with Timor-Leste policy, which aims to improve relations with
Timorese Foreign Minister Zacarias da Costa will visit Burma soon,
according to Ramos-Horta, to foster commercial ties between the two
Timor-Leste is highly import-dependent, with little more than a
subsistence, non-oil economy. Timor’s energy revenues are paid into a
national petroleum fund, aimed at ensuring responsible and sustainable
spending and retaining sufficient cash after offshore oil and gas
reserves are depleted. While the current government has been criticized
for over-spending from the reserves, the system is in marked contrast
to the opaque natural resource economics in Burma, which exports most
its oil and gas.
As seen by the airport demonstration, not everybody is happy with
Dili’s attempts to form a closer relationship with the military
government in Naypyidaw.
Zoya Phan,the international coordinator at Burma Campaign UK, told The
Irrawaddy that she believes Nyan Win’s visit to Burma is part of the
junta’s campaign to gain recognition for the upcoming Nov. 7 elections,
which have been dismissed for their restrictive campaign measures.
She said, “East Timor should reject this fake election and pressure him
[Nyan Win] to enter into genuine negotiations with democracy forces and
Timor-Leste is a former Portuguese colony which was invaded by
Indonesia shortly after the fall of the military dictatorship in Lisbon
in 1974, which brought about Portugal’s rapid withdrawal from its
colonies. An estimated 200,000 Timorese, out of a population of around
700,000, died during the occupation, which lasted until 1999. The
country’s post-independence Constitution says that Timor-Leste should
show solidarity with other oppressed people’s around the world.
In the past, Ramos-Horta has vociferously condemned the policies of the
Burmese junta. Ramos-Horta shared the Nobel Peace prize with Bishop
Carlos Belo in 1996, five years after Burma’s jailed pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi won the same award.
During Nyan Win’s weekend visit, Ramos-Horta said that a national
dialogue toward reconciliation in Burma should be implemented, and that
Aung San Suu Kyi should be freed to participate. The statements echo
remarks he made in February, when welcoming the new Burmese ambassador.
Asean membership would require Timor-Leste to accede to various
economic and free trade agreements, though not necessarily immediately.
However, some membership provisions could adversely affect Dili’s scope
to develop its non-oil economy, according to Shona Hawkes of La’o
Hamutuk of the Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and
Nyan Win’s Dili trip came directly after an official visit by
Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo, who encouraged Singaporean
businessmen to visit Timor-Leste. He was reported in Singaporean media
as saying, “We want Timor Leste to do well, to show that other small
countries facing difficult circumstances can also succeed.”
However, Yeo reportedly poured cold water on Dili’s Asean membership
bid, which may mean ambitions to join the bloc by 2012 will not be
realized. Shona Hawkes told The Irrawaddy that although Timor-Leste has
made a start on its Asean membership, apparently some member-states
have concerns that Dili lacks the resources to attend and contribute to
the bloc’s 800-plus meetings per year.
Nonetheless, Dili will host Asean Regional Forum gatherings in November
and December, with Thailand supporting the staging of the 5th ARF
Experts and Eminent Persons Meeting.
Election results will be
predictable – Ba Kaung
Irrawaddy: Mon 23 Aug 2010
Burma’s election results, to some degree, will be predictable by Sept.
10, when the Election Commission formally approves political party
candidates who will seek parliamentary seats in the election.
The latest data suggests that of the 1,187 seats in the national and
regional parliaments, opposition parties will be able to contest less
than 500 seats, because of budget, time and other constraints.
On the other hand, the junta’s largest proxy parties, the Union
Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the National Unity Party
(NUP), are now prepared to contest in all seats nationwide and will
automatically win in the uncontested seats under the election laws.
“There will be no ballot box in those areas where there is a single
candidate for the USDP,” said Than Min Soe, the spokesperson for the
Union Democratic Party (UDP). “We’ll know the results on Sept. 10.”
With the candidate registration deadline expiring on Monday, three
pro-democracy political parties in Rangoon—the National Democratic
Force (NDF), the Democratic Party (Myanmar) and the Union Democratic
Party (UDP)—have so far drawn up a combined list of 230 candidates.
Both the NDF and Democratic Party (Myanmar) now claim to have 100
candidates, while the UDP has 30.
Despite its list of 30 candidates, the UDP might field only three
candidates if the regime does not respond by Wednesday to its recent
request for clarification on how the 2008 Constitution would function
following the election.
“Without being clear about that process, it is pointless to compete for
many seats in the election,” said a UDP spokesperson, adding that its
decision to field only three candidates would be to prevent the party
from being abolished according to the election laws.
With a list of 100 candidates, the NDF leaders, who are former members
of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party (NLD), are
still waiting for the response of the EC for its request to postpone
the candidate registration deadline so that it can field more
candidates, according to party chairman Dr. Than Nyein.
“The election commission has not responded to our request yet,” he
said. He also said there’s a growing possibility that the junta’s
largest proxy party, the USDP, could end up with a sweeping victory
Asked if he regretted his decision to run in the election, Than Nyein
said: “Not at all. We will face whatever challenges lie ahead.”
Currently, many opposition political parties are worried about the
candidate registration process. The chairman of the Democratic Party
(Myanmar), Thu Wai, said that a candidate who seeks to represent a
particular constituency must live in the constituency.
“I live in Shwepyithar Township, but because I wish to run in
Pazundaung Township, I have to change my address so that I can register
myself as a candidate for that area,” he said.
The residency restriction was not included either in the election laws
or the latest rules announced by the election commission.
Most areas in which the Rangoon-based pro-democracy parties will not
seek to compete are in ethnic areas. There is little hope that local
ethnic parties not aligned with the government will be able to field
many candidates to compete against the USDP, due to financial and other
Potentially the largest ethnic party, the Shan National Democratic
Party (SNDP), will compete for 150 seats while the Rakhine National
Development Party (RNDP) will contest in 15 townships in Arakan State,
where the election commission designated a total of 17 constituencies.
This week, RNDP leaders complained that members of the party have been
harassed by local authorities this month.
“My sister and brother were questioned by the local police although
they are not involved in politics,” said Khine Pyi Soe, the secretary
of the RNDP.
A number of ethnic parties will not challenge the USDP candidates
because they were organized by either retired regime military or
civilian officials, including the Kayin Peoples Party led by Saw Htun
Aung Myint, a former navy colonel; the Chin Progressive Party (CPP) led
by Hlung Kyae, also a former police colonel; and the Kachin Party led
by Kya Hting Nan, a former organizer of the Union Solidarity and
Development Association (USDA) in Myitkyina.
On Monday, state-run newspapers reported that the regime Prime Minister
Thein Sein, who leads the USDP, asked voters to “prevent any
destructive acts so the election will meet with success.”
The remark followed the official announcement by NLD officials last
week that they would boycott the election. Ethnic leaders who were
elected in the 1990 election, but who decided not to run in the
election this year, also said they would conduct a campaign to inform
local people of their legal right not to vote.
“Starting next month, I will go back to Chin State to explain that to
our people,” said Chin Sian Thang, the chairman of Zomi National
Congress, a Chin political party which contested in the 1990 elections.
Forty-two political parties have been approved by the Election
Commission to compete in the Nov. 7 election.
In a press conference on Sunday, the chairman of the Democratic Party,
Thu Wai, said: “By creating obstacles to other political parties before
the election, it won’t be necessary to cheat or rig votes in the
election because the USDP now has the upper hand. Thus the voting
itself could be free and fair.”
Is Burma on the verge of
transformation? – David I. Steinberg
Washington Post: Mon 23 Aug 2010
The United States decided this week to support the creation of a United
Nations commission of inquiry into the Burmese military regime’s crimes
against humanity and war crimes. That human rights violations have
occurred is clear, and many have noted that the Burmese junta’s
restrictions on its upcoming elections make it all but certain the
generals will retain power. The real dilemma is whether it is better to
express moral outrage at these offenses or to hold off, presuming the
possibility of eventual change under a new government.
The options for nation states to express moral outrage are well
established: sanctions, war crimes trials, embargoes. These are also
tactics designed to achieve certain ends: liberalization, increased
human rights, regime change or other indicators of progress. The key
question for U.S. officials ahead of Burma’s Nov. 7 elections is: Will
actions such as imposing new sanctions or endorsing a commission of
inquiry improve the lot of the Burmese? Will they help further U.S.
strategic and humanitarian objectives in that society and region under
a revised government?
The Burmese constitution all but guarantees that its military will
remain in command after the elections; by law, 25 percent of seats are
reserved for the military. The voting for national and local
legislatures will occur before opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to
be released from house arrest, and many in her now-defunct National
League for Democracy have pledged not to campaign in the biased
elections. Further, the generals have legal immunity from in-country
prosecution for all acts committed in official capacities.
Despite all this, it is likely that some members of the opposition — in
modest numbers — will be among those seated in the central and local
legislatures next year — marking the first time opposition voices would
be legal in Burma since 1962.
It seems likely that political prisoners will be freed around the time
of the elections so that they cannot “interfere” with that controlled
process. There have also been indications that badly needed economic
reforms could be instituted by the next Burmese administration and that
civilians could play significant roles in the government. Essentially,
it is possible that in Burma in the near future, we may see the
transformation of a “soft authoritarian” state into one that is more
pluralistic, including with some legal opposition legislators. In
Burmese military lingo, it may be a “discipline-flourishing democracy”
— but not a democracy unencumbered by deleterious adjectival
The plight of the Burmese people has long distressed many. But imposing
additional sanctions on Burma’s regime or forming still more
commissions will only salve our consciences. Neither will help the
Burmese people, persuade the government to loosen its grip on the
population, or even assist the United States in meeting its strategic
or humanitarian objectives. In fact, such moves would hinder
negotiations and relations with a new government that, even if far from
a model for governance, would probably give the Burmese more political
voice and freedom than they have had in half a century. If our concerns
are for the well-being of the people and U.S. national interests in the
region, then we might well wait for the elections and whatever
government comes into power. Then will be the time to judge whether
there has been a step forward and how to achieve our goals.
* David I. Steinberg, a professor of Asian studies at Georgetown
University’s School of Foreign Service, is the author of
“Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know.”
Myanmar lays down stringent
campaign rules for November election
Associated Press: Thu 19 Aug 2010
Yangon, Myanmar — Myanmar has published stringent rules for November’s
general election that demand candidates seek permission a week in
advance to campaign, do not make speeches that “tarnish” the ruling
military or shout slogans at processions.
The 13-point list of campaigning regulations decreed by the state
Election Commission would guarantee a “free and fair” vote, according
to the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper which published the
rules Thursday, a week after the Nov. 7 election date was set.
The vote will be the first in impoverished Myanmar in two decades. The
party of detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which won the last
election in 1990 but was barred from taking power, decided to boycott
this year’s vote. They say the junta unfairly imposed rules that
restrict campaigning and bar the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and other
political prisoners from participating.
Many Western governments and human right groups agree that the process
is unfair and seek changes to ensure free and fair polls, including the
release of Suu Kyi — who has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years
— and other prisoners.
Although the election is meant to be the key step from five decades of
military rule to civilian government, critics say a military-initiated
constitution, along with repression of the opposition, ensures the army
will continue to hold commanding influence even after the polls.
According to the regulations, candidates must seek permission to
campaign a week in advance from the local Election Commission,
providing details such as place of assembly, date, time and duration.
Holding flags and shouting slogans in processions is forbidden, as is
making speeches or distributing publications that “tarnish the image”
of the military and any “activities that can harm security.”
Candidates found in violation of the regulations face a fine and a jail
term of one year.
It was still unclear when the official campaign period begins. The
Election Commission will finish its scrutiny of candidates by Sept. 10.
Separately, the New Light of Myanmar reported an ethnic Karen group
allied to the government — the Democratic Karen Buddhist Association —
agreed to transform its guerrilla fighters into the Border Guard Forces.
Integrating ethnic rebel groups into government-supervised border
forces is a key part of the government’s plans to pacify border areas,
which are dominated by minority groups that have long striven for
autonomy, sometimes though armed struggle.
The junta in the 1990s reached cease-fire agreements with many, but
compromised by allowing them to keep their arms. Five of the groups
have now agreed to integrate themselves into the national border force,
but others, such as the Kachin Independence Army and the 20,000-strong
United Wa State Army, are still resisting the transformation of their
Rights to assemble and canvass
for Hluttaw candidates
The New Light of Myanmar: Thu 19 Aug 2010
Nay Pyi Taw — The Union Election Commission issued Notification No.
91/2010 today. The following is the unofficial translation of the
The Union of Myanmar
Union Election Commission
Nay Pyi Taw
Notification No. 91/2010
8th Waxing of Wagaung 1372 ME
(18th August 2010)
1. The Union Election Commission already issued the Notification No.
89/2010 dated 13-8-2010 saying that multiparty democracy general
elections for the respective Hluttaws will be held on 7 November 2010.
With Notification No.90/2010 dated 13-8-2010, the Commission also
announced the starting and last dates for submission of Hluttaw
candidate list, the date to scrutinize applications of candidates and
the last date to withdraw applications of candidates if needed.
2. Hluttaw candidates representing political parties and independent
Hluttaw candidates who submit lists of Hluttaw candidates to stand for
elections of respective Hluttaws and their representatives, shall
follow the methods described in this Notification if they wish to
present their policies, stances and work programmes and causes through
talks or in writings for their candidates to win.
Procedures to be taken
3. Hluttaw candidates and election representatives may take following
procedure in order that their Hluttaw candidates can win.
(a) assembling and giving talks at a designated place with the
permission of the sub-commission concerned
(b) distributing and presenting publication
Applying for permission for assembling and giving talks
4. Hluttaw candidates and election representatives who wish to assemble
and give talks at the designated places shall have to apply to the
subcommission concerned as mentioned hereunder seven days in advance.
(a) the state or division sub-commission concerned for the townships
where state or division sub-commission office is based
(b) the district sub-commission concerned for the townships where
district sub-commission office is based
(c) the township sub-commission concerned for the remaining townships
except the townships mentioned in sub-Paras (a) and (b)
5. Assembling and giving talks at the party headquarters and branches
shall be reported in advance to the sub-commissions concerned and it is
no need to apply for the permission.
6. Those entitled to apply: In applying for the permission according to
Para-4, a Hluttaw candidate concerned or his election representative
will have to sign the application.
7. Points to be included in the application: In applying for the
permission, Hluttaw candidates and election representatives concerned
shall have to apply mentioning that they shall assemble and give talks
in accord with the prohibitions, provisions included in the permission
and principles. In addition, they shall have to include the following
detailed points in the application.
(a) planned venue
(b) planned date
(c) starting time and finishing time (estimate)
(d) number of attendees (estimate)
(e) the name, NRC No. and address of a speaker or speakers
(f) the name, NRC No. and address of the applicant
8. Sub-commission’s scrutiny: With regard to applying for permission
according to Paras 4, 6 and 7, the sub-commission can
(a) issue the permission or reject the application after scrutinizing
the application as necessary.
(b) The following points shall be stated in the permission order when
(1) Permitted date and place
(2) Starting time and finishing time
(3) Name, NRC No. and address of a permitted speaker or speakers
(c) In issuing the permission, the points prohibiting the act of
holding flags and shouting slogans in procession in going to the
designated place for the assembly and talk and the points stating to
disperse without shouting slogans in procession shall be stipulated.
(d) The following points shall be stipulated as necessary in issuing
(1) Not to cause any disturbances to public places such as government
offices, organizations, factories, workshops and work places, markets,
sports grounds, religious places, schools and hospitals
(2) Not to exceed the seating capacity if the venue of the assembly and
talk is a building or hall. (To take the responsibility of ensuring
that there is no public assembling outside the building or hall)
(3) If the venue of the assembly and talk is an open ground, its
holding capacity shall not be exceeded.
(4) Not to hold or carry any sticks, swords, weapons and ammunition and
other harmful items
(5) Not to disturb the traffic and block roads
(6) To amplify the sound box to the degree that is just enough for the
permitted hall or ground in order not to cause any disturbances to the
(7) Sound amplification system shall be according to the existing laws
(8) Other necessary stipulations
(e) Permit shall be issued 48 hours prior to the time of the
commencement of the assembly and talk. Any rejection to the permit
shall be informed 48 hours prior to the time of the commencement of the
assembly and talk together with the reason to do so.
(f) If necessary for ensuring of security, the rule of law and
community peace, the provisions stipulated in this Notification shall
be amended or revoked.
(g) Allowable public places in the regions concerned for assembly and
giving public talks shall be designated in advance in coordination with
the Peace and Development Councils concerned.
(h) Coordination shall be carried out in order that the Peace and
Development Councils concerned and security forces can safeguard
assembling and giving public talks.
(i) Coordination shall be carried out in order that the Peace and
Development Councils concerned and security forces can take necessary
preventive measures against any threats to security, the rule of law
and community peace.
Rights to publish publications
9. If candidates and election representatives want to publish and
distribute papers, books and pamphlets on their policies, stances and
programmes for public knowledge, they shall follow the 1962 Printers
and Publishers Registration Law and the stipulations in Directive No
(42) dated 17 March 2010 issued by the Central Supervisory Committee
for Printers and Publishers Registration and Scrutinization under the
Ministry of Information.
10. Candidates and election representatives shall not breach any of the
following restrictions in assembling, giving public talks and
(a) activities that can harm Non-disintegration of the Union,
Non-disintegration of national solidarity and Perpetuation of
(b) activities that can harm security, the rule of law, community peace,
(c) disobeying the State Constitution of the Union of Myanmar and
(d) giving public talks and distributing publications with the
intention of inciting sedition or tarnishing the image of the State,
(e) giving public talks and distributing publications with intent to
break up or tarnish the image of the Tatmadaw,
(f) distributing publications, giving public talks or organizing people
to provoke racial, religious, individual or public conflicts, or harm
dignity and morals,
(g) misusing religion for political gains,
(h) instigating riots and distributing publications with intent to harm
(i) instigating riots and distributing publications with intent to
incite service personnel not to discharge their duties well or take to
the streets against the government,
11. Candidates and election representatives shall not breach the
existing laws, and restrictions contained in this Notification and
stipulations of the permission in assembling and distributing
publications to present their policies, stances and programmes.
12. Any candidate or election representative is liable for action taken
in accordance with Political Parties Registration Law and the Election
Laws concerned in addition to existing law if they disobey any of the
restrictions contained in this Notification, or stipulations prescribed
in the permission.
11 Therefore, it is hereby announced that candidates and election
representatives are to honour this Notification in assembling, giving
public talks and distributing publications for their candidates to win
in the elections, to ensure that the multiparty democracy general
elections due to be held in 2010 are free and fair.
Union Election Commission
NLD election boycott official
Irrawaddy: Thu 19 Aug 2010
Leaders of Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for
Democracy (NLD), have decided to officially boycott the Nov 7.
election, according to Ohn Kyaing, a party spokesperson.
The decision was made at a meeting on Thursday attended by central
executive committee and leading party members.
Held at the house of NLD vice chairman Tin Oo in Rangoon, the meeting
was attended by top NLD leaders including vice chairman Tin Oo, Win
Tin, Nyunt Wai, Than Htun and Hla Pe, said Ohn Kyaing, who also
He said the NLD decided to boycott the election because the 2008
Constitution and the election commission’s election law do not
guarantee democracy and human rights in Burma.
The NLD also affirmed that voters have the right to decide whether to
vote in the election according to the constitution, he said.
In June, detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said
Burmese citizens have the right not to vote in the upcoming election.
However, earlier in August, an article in one of the state-run
newspapers warned that anyone who “disrupts” the upcoming elections
could face up to 20 years imprisonment.
Ohn Kyaing said he cannot provide detailed information about the
election boycott at this moment, but the NLD will hold strategy
meetings in the near future for organizing the election boycott.
The Nov. 7 election takes place one week before Suu Kyi is due for
The end of the DKBA? – Saw Yan
Irrawaddy: Thu 19 Aug 2010
The Burmese government welcomed troops of the Democratic Karen Buddhist
Army (DKBA) into the border guard force in a ceremony on Thursday in
Myaing Gyi Nyu, the headquarters of the DKBA in Karen State, according
The ceremony was attended by several Burmese officials including
Burmese Military Affairs Security Chief Lt-Gen Ye Myint, who is one of
the regime’s chief negotiators responsible for persuading ethnic
ceasefire militias to accept becoming border guard forces, Brig-Gen Zaw
Min, the chairman of the Karen State Peace and Development Council, and
Maj-Gen Thet Naing Win, the Southeast Regional Commander in Moulmein.
Gen Kyaw Than, the DKBA commander in chief and vice chairman, also
attended the ceremony.
Witnesses said Burmese police cleared the road for a convoy of DKBA
vehicles bringing hundreds of DKBA troops to Myaing Gyi Nyu on
Wednesday for the ceremony.
Separate ceremonies will also take place this month in other
DKBA-controlled areas including Pinekyon Township and Shwe Koko,
headquarters of DKBA Special Battalion 999 led by Col Chit Thu,
according to Karen sources.
Karen sources in Hpa-an, capital of Karen State also said that Brig-Gen
Pah Nwee, the commander of DKBA Brigade 999, and his troops will be
received at a ceremony on Friday.
“They [DKBA Brigade 999 troops] are practicing for Friday’s ceremony,”
said a source in Hpa-an.
Sources have not confirmed when there will be a ceremony for Col Chit
Thu and his troops from DKBA Special Battalion 999.
Meanwhile, observers predict DKBA forces will lose control of many of
its strongholds where large business operate when the militia becomes a
border guard force paid for and dominated by Burmese officials.
According to Burma’s 2008 Constitution, the border guard force will be
part of the Burmese armed forces and will receive the same salary as
Burmese army troops.
Saw Htee Moo, a well-informed source close to the DKBA said the Burmese
regime will likely take over DKBA-controlled trade, leaving the DKBA
Several large businesses in Karen State along Thai-Burmese border such
as logging, zinc and tin mining and border trade through Myawaddy
Towship are currently controlled by the DKBA.
This will change, according to Karen sources, who say trade in
DKBA-controlled regions and border areas will come under the direct
control of the Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry
when the DKBA becomes a border guard force.
The DKBA split from its mother organization, the Karen National Union
(KNU) and signed ceasefire agreement with the Burmese military
government in 1995. It has six brigades with an estimated 6,000 armed
In early August, Burmese junta troops in Myawaddy Township seized the
main border trade gate operated by DKBA Brigade 999 on the Thai-Burmese
border. The Burmese troops put up a Burmese national flag and took down
the DKBA flag, changing the name of the gate from Brigade 999 to Dawna
Taung—the name of a well-known mountain in Karen State, according to
sources close to DKBA.
“DKBA is now at the endgame. They will disappear,” said Maj Saw Hla
Ngwe, joint secretary (1) of the KNU.
Myanmar’s politics and economy:
A new day beckons, sort of
Economist: Thu 19 Aug 2010
The first election in 20 years coincides with a rushed privatisation
programme. Guess who profits from the fire sale
IN MYANMAR, a column of cars at a petrol station usually means a fuel
shortage or a broken pump. But the queue at “New Day”, one of dozens of
newly privatised stations in Yangon, the former capital, is a sign of
progress. New managers have repainted its tin roof and installed two
Chinese-made pumps with digital displays. Fresh-faced attendants in
branded red-and-white polo shirts leap eagerly to their task. To the
side sit the rusting pumps of MPPE, the state firm that this year lost
its monopoly on fuel sales and distribution.
Motorists now enjoy the luxury of filling their tanks. Before, one
explains, you could buy a maximum of two gallons a day and black-market
merchants supplied the rest. Naturally, rationing did not apply to
military men or civil servants, who got free fuel allocations. MPPE was
notorious for selling substandard diesel. Now drivers can pick among
the private operators of Myanmar’s 248 filling stations, though prices
seem to be pegged at a single rate.
The sell-off is part of a big privatisation plan taking place before a
general election—the first in two decades—that has been called for
November 7th. Ports, airlines, highways, mines, dams, factories,
warehouses, government buildings and cinemas have all gone on the
block. Private firms may now run schools and hospitals. Four banks are
due to open soon, the first new ones since a banking crisis in 2003.
One may even issue credit cards, a rarity in Myanmar.
Nearly five decades after seizing power and nationalising all
industries, the army suddenly seems infused with a Thatcherite spirit.
Given its appalling economic record—income per person is a paltry $459
a year—that could be cause for celebration.
Sadly, the programme seems to be a hurried asset-stripping exercise by
the generals and their cronies, with echoes of Russia’s 1990s fire
sale. The valuations of the assets are not published, nor what they are
fetching. Buildings are listed for auction, but sales are done in
private. In a deeply corrupt country, it is easy to imagine the worst.
Opposition activists, diplomats and businessmen say that a handful of
pro-junta tycoons are benefiting royally, including many who were
blacklisted by the American government.
Yet the pace of sales suggests that the election, however flawed, might
represent some real political change. The vote will not be fair.
Campaigning will be tightly controlled and it is costly to field
candidates. Pro-junta parties enjoy access to official media, unlike
the opposition. The country’s most famous politician, Aung San Suu Kyi,
is barred from running, along with over 2,000 other political
prisoners. In protest, her National League for Democracy (NLD) will not
contest the election, although a breakaway party will.
Despite all this, the poll is a watershed. Businessmen are bracing
themselves for a transition from the certainties of military rule to a
civilian-flavoured administration. For the departing generals,
privatisation looks to be a retirement plan of sorts. The 77-year-old
leader of the junta, General Than Shwe, wants to hand over gradually to
younger men. A constitution drawn up in 2008 enshrines a strong role
for the armed forces, which will control a quarter of the seats in
national and local parliaments and run the security agencies. But new
faces and power bases will emerge. “People are grabbing what they can.
Nobody knows where they’ll be after the election,” notes a diplomat.
The result may be that some power is dispersed, particularly in
Myanmar’s 14 states and divisions, half of which are dominated by
ethnic minorities. Army officers may soon do less day-to-day
administration, though cronies of the junta and military-run companies
would keep the commanding heights of the economy.
Uniforms are so yesterday
Optimists in Yangon see benefits from the privatisation programme,
whatever its inequities. One suggests that the new owners might even
invest in their companies. “They have the capacity. We can use these
guys,” he says. Not all the assets are prizes; some ministries simply
wanted to be rid of dud firms, suggests Sean Turnell of Macquarie
University in Australia. Just possibly some generals will try to knock
their companies into good enough shape to compete, eventually, with
That would become clear only after the election, if men in suits, not
in uniform, start to set economic policy. If some authority were
devolved to local bodies, that might cause friction with regional
military commands. In any case, no one expects that the army will
meekly hide away in its barracks. It still sees itself as the guardian
of national unity and a bulwark against ethnic separatism and foreign
meddlers. The constitution gives a powerful role to the
commander-in-chief, who appoints his own security council and can
declare a state of emergency. The new day may yet look rather like the
U.S. to Back Human-Rights
Inquiry in Myanmar
Wall Street Journal: Thu 19 Aug 2010
The Obama administration decided to back efforts to create an
international commission investigating alleged human-rights violations
in Myanmar in a move that ratchets up pressure on the country as it
prepares for its first election in 20 years.
The move comes just months after Washington said it was embarking on a
new policy of “engagement” with Myanmar aimed at improving relations
after years of economic sanctions failed to weaken its secretive
military regime. Supporters of the engagement effort, including some
Myanmar exiles and analysts, had hoped it would encourage top Myanmar
generals to open more to the outside world and take steps to ensure the
coming election is held to international standards.
More recently, however, U.S. officials began to express frustration
that their overtures—which included visits to Myanmar by high-ranking
State Department officials—had failed to influence the government,
which is accused of human-rights violations including the imprisonment
of 2,000 or more political opponents.
Myanmar’s government has declined to release Nobel laureate opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, which U.S. officials have
said is a precondition to holding fair elections. In June, Myanmar
officials issued tough new campaign rules that prohibit political
parties from marching or chanting slogans or giving talks “tarnishing
the image of the state.” Opposition leaders say they have been harassed
by police in recent weeks.
U.S. officials have expressed concern over unconfirmed reports that
Myanmar may be attempting to develop a nuclear-weapons program. Those
concerns grew more serious in recent months after exile news services
released reports about the alleged program based in part on details
from a Myanmar army defector. Myanmar officials have repeatedly denied
any attempts to develop nuclear weapons.
“The United States supports establishing an international commission of
inquiry to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity”
in Myanmar, an administration official said Wednesday. “We have begun
consulting with others to determine how best to achieve that end,” the
It wasn’t possible to reach anyone within the Myanmar government to
Critics of Myanmar have been pushing for a United Nations-led inquiry
for years. The effort gained momentum this year after a U.N. special
rapporteur for Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, said he found a pattern of
systematic human-rights violations in trips to the country, including
cases of forced labor.
A Myanmar diplomat disputed the assessment at the time and said
international authorities should be more focused on rebuilding
relations with the country.
U.S. support doesn’t mean an inquiry will occur. But it indicates that
Western governments are hoping to tighten pressure on Myanmar’s
military, which has ruled the country since 1962, and especially its
top leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe. Many exiles and academics believe
Myanmar’s generals opted to schedule an election this year in part to
boost their legitimacy in the international community, potentially
forestalling any bid to open a crimes-against-humanity probe.
Myanmar’s officials promise that the vote, scheduled for Nov. 7, will
be free and fair. But many opposition leaders, including Ms. Suu Kyi,
have vowed to boycott, and international rights groups have said they
don’t believe a fair vote can be held given Myanmar’s tight
restrictions on the media and public assembly. Opposition leaders
easily won the last vote, in 1990, but the junta ignored the results.
The decision to back a commission of inquiry “is the right and timely
action by the Obama administration” to express displeasure over what is
likely to be a “sham election,” said Aung Din, executive director of
the U.S. Campaign for Burma, a Washington group that uses a former name
for the country, in a statement.
Obama wants Burmese rulers to
face UN war crimes investigation – Andrew Buncombe
Independent: Thu 19 Aug 2010
US move reflects the failure of engagement with Rangoon
The administration of US President Barack Obama has decided to throw
its crucial support behind moves to establish a special UN commission
to investigate alleged war crimes perpetrated by the military rulers of
In what represents a marked rollback of one of President Obama’s most
controversial foreign policy initiatives, US officials said Washington
would now back the war crimes investigation, as urged earlier this year
by the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Burma. Washington is
also said to be considering tightening sanctions against the junta.
The decision represents a reversal of an initiative announced last year
to try to develop closer diplomatic ties with Burma by establishing
regular meetings involving a senior US official.
There was talk that a closer relationship could possibly be rewarded
with a dilution or dropping of some sanctions. But reports suggest
Washington believes its overtures to the military have largely been
rebuffed, even though several meetings have been held.
There is also likely concern over continued reports – though none of
them confirmed – that Burma is interested in developing a nuclear
“There have been no positive results on democracy and human rights in
our diplomatic engagement,” one anonymous official told The Washington
The decision by the US to back the tribunal, already supported by
Britain and Australia, comes before elections in Burma on 7 November.
While the junta claims they will be a stepping-stone towards full
democracy, most observers in the West have dismissed them, saying they
will do little more than cement the position of the military.
Campaigners have argued the elections could not be considered fair
while more than 2,100 political prisoners – among them an opposition
leader, Aung San Suu Kyi – were still detained.
A total of about 40 parties have registered to participate in
November’s elections, though many of them are groups led by former
senior military officers who have taken off their uniforms for the
process. The National League for Democracy, the party of Ms Suu Kyi, a
Nobel laureate, voted not to participate, though a breakaway group has
Activists yesterday welcomed the US decision. Aung Din, executive
director of the Washington-based Campaign for Burma, said: “This is the
right and timely action in response to the power thirsty and brutal
generals, who are expecting to delete their dirty crimes by putting a
sham constitution into effect through a sham election.
“This is a clear message that the United States will not recognise
their showcase election and will make them accountable for their
horrible abuses against their own citizens.”
Mark Farmaner, of the Burma Campaign UK, also supported the move but
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