ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Election campaign laws spark debate
Myanmar: Political parties are in conflict over the perceived fairness of the new draft electoral rules and regulation amendments.
The draft instructions were distributed to the 65 registered political parties by the Pyidaungsu Electoral Commission ahead of a planned meeting for the discussion of the proposals to be held at the Sky Star Hotel, Yangon on May 15.
“These rules and regulations are unprecedented in Myanmar politics and run contrary to political practice across the world,” said U Win Myint, an executive committee member at the National League for Democracy on May 13.
U Win Myint was referring to the new regulations that include the requirement for candidates to inform the electoral commission of all the activities they intend to engage in across the entire length of the campaign period. The guidelines say that the candidate must submit their plans within fifteen days of their registration as an official candidate.
U Thein Tun, a central executive committee member of the National Unity Party told Mizzima Daily that he believed the draft electoral guidelines to represent a step forward.
“Following only a cursory glance, one may question these regulations but they represent a more open process than the previous system,” said U Thein Tun.
The guidelines continue to state that should a non-candidate or party leader wish to campaign on behalf of an official candidate, they must carry a letter of invitation from that candidate, which must first have been registered and accepted by the local electoral commission.
U Hla Swe, a central committee member of the United Solidarity and Development Party said that he did not characterise such regulations as restrictive, but rather that he believed they provided a disciplined framework for those campaigning on behalf of a candidate.
“During the last by-election campaign, a number of individuals including the actor Ye Dike were carrying on as if it was Thingyaun, taking to the streets on motor bicycles, wearing bandanas and shouting,” said the U Hla Swe, who is also a UDSP central committee member.
The proposed regulations say registered activities may be denied permission to go ahead by the commission up to 72 hours prior to the planned event.
“It may be the governments place to regulate elections but it cannot do as they please”, said U Thu Way, chairman of the Democratic Party.
Other regulations include those protecting the state and Tatmadaw from any form of defamation.
U Aye Tha Aung, the caretaker chair of the Arakan National Party questioned exactly what this would mean in practice.
“Will criticisms that question the undemocratic constitutional involvement of the Tatmadawbe interpreted as an attack on the dignity of the Tatmadaw?” said U Aye Tha Aung.
Discussing the proposed set of laws that also demand that a candidate must seek permission to campaign through the traditional media and modern electronic communication; U Aye Tha Aung said “These draft laws are intended to restrict the actions of political parties and the media.”
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