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ASEAN ANALYSIS  Asean Affairs  1 November 2010

Will they or won’t they vote?

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     1 November 2010

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As election day, November 7, approaches in Myanmar stories that could be described as “peculiar” are coming out of that country just in time for an election that itself could be described as peculiar.

The first story that broke today was the belief that Internet traffic to and from the isolated country had been slowed down. The target of the slowdown is of course, freedom of the press, to hamper journalists from filing their reports on the developing election news.

Local media, which are state controlled in Myanmar, blamed the problem on “hackers.” One doubts that anyone in or outside Myanmar believes that, such is the junta’s credibility.

Later in the day, another story appeared in which junta leaders threatened that they would cling to power if the public boycotted the election and in passing blamed foreign media for attempting to thwart the poll.

The election is widely regarded as a sham to legitimize the junta’s rule under a democratic façade. However, the results of the election are guaranteed with 25 percent of the parliamentary seats going to the military. The party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is not participating in the election because the party regards the election, as do most people, as a fraud.

With paid spies in every sector of Myanmar society perhaps the junta has picked up intelligence that there will be a boycott of the poll.

As the results of the poll are not an issue, the question now surely must shift to if the lection boycott materializes.

If it does, that would surely be a statement from the Myanmar people.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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