Electoral Body Seeks Cars, Land for Burma’s Political Parties

Electoral Body Seeks Cars, Land for Burma’s Political Parties

Myanmar political parties, car import permits

Tin Aye, chairman of the Union Election Commission, was formerly a member of the central committee of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

Burma’s Union Election Commission has submitted separate proposals asking President Thein Sein to provide land for offices and car import permits to the country’s 65 registered political parties.

In the two letters sent to the President’s Office on Thursday, the UEC requested that the executive “consider necessary instructions” to distribute state-owned lands for political parties’ use and to issue car import licenses—allowing for the duty-free purchase of foreign-made vehicles that would otherwise come with a steep import tax—for the parties to use for campaigning purposes.

“The political parties are key political forces in a disciplined, multi-party democracy; they participate both inside Parliament and in outside politics,” the letter read, acknowledging that parties faced difficulties opening offices in towns across Burma.

The UEC proposals have come in for criticism in a country where land rights are often violated and in which car permits have a controversial recent history. The letters were distributed to political parties on Monday, said Khin Maung Swe, the chairman of one of Burma’s smaller parties, the National Democratic Force.

“We did not talk about the car permits during our meeting, but we raised the issue of land difficulties that we are now facing,” he said, adding that skyrocketing land prices in Burma were hindering his party’s ability to expand its reach via branch offices and other organizing operations.

He said the commission’s thinking reflected concerns raised by many of Burma’s small and ethnically oriented parties during their meetings with the UEC.

“It is a good sign that the Election Commission is paying attention to the parties’ needs, as in other countries,” he said, while acknowledging that the proposal, if implemented, might be to the detriment of Burma’s biggest and most powerful parties, which already have a political presence in many parts of the country.

The current instructions for the registration of a political party in Burma do not state any specific privileges granted to political parties. Under the country’s junta-era Election Law, if a political party is abolished, the party’s properties are to be nationalized.

Dr. Aye Maung, an Arakanese lawmaker and a leader of the Arakan National Party, said he was not aware of the UEC letters, but he confirmed that ethnic political parties had raised the land issue with the electoral body.

“The imported license fee for vehicles should be equal for every citizen, not strictly for the political parties,” he added.

Myo Yan Naung Thein, an outspoken political analyst and a secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party’s research team, questioned the fairness of the UEC proposals.

“The Election Commission is trying to win over other small parties for political gain while it is pushing harshly on the NLD, led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” he said. On the same day that the letters were received by political parties, the UEC sent a “warning letter” to Suu Kyi, who was accused by the commission of challenging the military in a public rally for constitutional reform in Mandalay earlier this month.

Thein Nyunt, a parliamentarian and chairman of the New National Democracy Party, said his party was also unaware of the UEC’s proposals.

If taken up by the Thein Sein administration, Thein Nyunt said the matter would have to be discussed among party members, as “my party does not ask for any support from government or others—NGOs, crony businessmen, embassies or foreign countries.

“Our party was not formed to receive such privilege,” he added. “Since the beginning, we have been here to help in terms of legal advice and other difficulties they [constituents] face.”

Presidential spokesman Ye Htut could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, while a President’s Office official declined to discuss the issue.

6 Responses to Electoral Body Seeks Cars, Land for Burma’s Political Parties

  1. This man is horrible, still living in the cast-away era of special privileges. Yes, the era has its image still to this day.
    As a matter of principle, all political parties must be self-supporting and sustainable, not at the public expenses. If they cannot support themselves, cast off and get lost. If they don’t, they would only support USDP by way of stretching the vote, away froma singularly popular party, and in favour of USDP, as the Commissioner seems to be thinking.
    Besides we know USDP has had an enormous amount of fund when they changed over from USDA, which was supported with undisclosed funds by the military government. They had, and still have, special privileges all round. But I think they are now running out of cash and assets. And of course, they want to bribe other parties, particularly small ones, to pull them in their infamous lot.
    This man is mad. He is doing all sorts of corrupt practices, starting with supervising all political parties but the USDP. Now this “benevolence”! Have a laugh so that you may not weep. This is the man not qualified as the Union Election Commissioner.
    Shame to us all!!!

  2. What about new party to be registered for upcoming election? Will they give free land and car to future parties too? Ahh!! I am going to register a party as buying land and car will cost far more than registering a political party.

  3. We the people need to make uec’s job description. Tin aye’s behavior is telling us that he is an insane person. When he is moving around beyond his boundary, it is a sign of insanity. His only job is to provide free and fair election. But he plays along with usdp today. He also is doing the thing he is not appointed for. His actions prove that he is an unfit person to chair uec.

  4. Instead, Tin Aye and his UEC members better try to provide a free and fair election. Free and Fair Election includes freedom of campaign and movement to spread the words, ideas and visions that we the people can choose the persons and parties we want to lead our nation into the future. Distributing confiscated lands to the parties or providing cars? His idea is smelly like rotten fish. He better learns what his responsibility is. Instead of holding chairmanship at UEC, he better sees psychiatrists.

  5. Under this idiot man’s chairmanship, free and fair election will not happen in 2015. He is not an honest man but working for usdp. He must be forced to resign from uec. Also, he is stepping outside of his job. Lands and cars for the political parties are not his responsibilities. A referee in the football match must be neutral without impartiality. So far, tin aye in campaigning and attacking suu kyi in order to give an upper hand to usdp. For the sake of free and fair election, tin aye must be forced to resign from his post as uec chairman.

  6. It is a kind of populist policy persuading peoples for corruption and against democratic norms.

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