Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Referendum in Burma to be held on 10-5-08: Full of deceptions

Referendum in Burma to be held on 10-5-08: Full of deceptions
• The Referendum Law for the approval of the draft constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar 2008 is full of tricks letting the regime to do as it wishes.
• The Law carries a three-year prison term and with or without a fine of 100,000 Kyat ($90) for anyone who is charged against referendum.1 (take as campaign for No vote)

Referendum in Burma to be held on 10-5-08: Full of deceptions
• The Law does not set the timing when to release the vote results2 (Notice the election in Zimbabwe.)
• The interpretation of the Law for postponement and cancellation of voting is in the hands of the junta.3
• Decree 5/96 of 7-6-1996 can punish criticism of the regime’s roadmap with minimum 5 years and maximum up to 20 years in prison, the organization can be disqualified and properties can be seized.
• The USDA4 is assigned to overwhelm the referendum process as the commission and poll officials are from USDA which enjoys all extra-judicial privileges.
• Before it was officially published, there have been (1) draft constitution and (2) basic principles on pro-SPDC website with ostensible typographic error in amendment chapter in the draft. The copies sent to political parties are the typographic error ones. Correction was added only when NLD5 pointed out that.
• The draft constitution was made public only one month ahead of the referendum so that the people have less time to study and the political parties will not have enough time to educate the voters.
• Only Burmese version of draft constitution was published while most of the ethnic peoples do not read or speak Burmese.
• Government-run TV, radio, newspapers, blog-sites carry Yes vote propaganda while NLD is being intimidated, members arrested, beaten by unknown peoples, and printed materials are seized.
• Artists, film stars, singers and celebrities are exploited for Yes vote campaign
• Government employees are instructed to vote for Yes and they are threatened they would be fired if voted for No.
• Highest ranking SPDC authorities, ministers, commanders, USDA officials pay visits around the country and urge the people to vote for Yes.
• The unknown huge amount of State fund is misused to lure the people with economic incentives, mobile phone, loans and etc.
• The village heads are ordered by military officials for yes vote campaign.6
• Neither domestic nor international observers will be allowed to monitor the referendum and UN’s offer for technical assistance was turned down.
• Chief Justice U Aung Toe is the man of all colors because he was Chairman of the National Convention Convening Work Committee as well as the Chairman of the State Constitution Drafting Commission is also Chairman of the National Referendum Commission.
• Extensive flexibilities for referendum commission to rig the referendum process:
• In 1973 Referendum Law, the voters’ list was announced 10 days ahead. But in 2008 it will be announced only 7 days ahead.
• In 1973 referendum, all 18 years old citizens are eligible to vote. But 2008 Law 11 (a) says every citizen, associate citizen, naturalized citizen and temporary certificate holder who has completed the age of eighteen years on the day of referendum shall have the right to vote at the referendum.
• SPDC has issued temporary certificates to ceasefire groups and unknown persons e.g. half-Indians who are happy with that and they will give yes votes. No one knows how many temporary certificates have been issued. Nobody knows one person holds more than one certificate.
• In 1973, the ballot papers placed outside the ballot boxes were regarded as cancelled votes. In 2008 Law, the ballot papers put outside the ballot boxes will not be regarded as cancelled votes.
• In 2008 Law, the ballot papers with additional marks will not be counted as cancelled voters.
• In 1990 election, the voters have to press a seal beside the candidate’s name or party logo. In this referendum it has to tick _ for Yes vote and _ for No vote. In Burmese culture _ means negative or pessimistic.
• It is one polling station for 1000 to 3000 voters and the soldiers whose polling stations are at the respective army quarters are afraid to cast No vote.
• The referendum will be successful if 50% + 1 voters cast the voting.
• The result of referendum will be decided by simple majority i.e. (50% + 1) votes.
• Conundrum (1)
o Votes-in-favor = 26
o Votes-against = 25
o Absentees = 49
o Total turn-out = 51
• Referendum is successful but all the 49 absentees are believed to be against the constitution and referendum and only 26% Votes-in-favor can win.
• Conundrum (2)
o Votes-in-favor = 26
o Votes-against = 26
o Absentees = 48
o Total turn-out = 52
• In this deadlock, by canceling one No vote and Votes-in-favor can win.
• Conundrum (3)
o Votes-in-favor = 20
o Votes-against = 31
o In this scenario, 12 Votes-against can be deliberately cancelled i.e. (31 – 12) = 19
o Votes-against so that only 20% Votes-in-favor can win.
• Conundrum (4)
o Votes-in-favor = 20
o Votes-against = 60
o The referendum sub-commission can dissolve voting and the result will not be counted at all.
• Vote-banks for the military regime:
• The illiterate people and naive voters, the rural dwellers and the non-Burmese language speakers and government employees
• Temporary identity card holders who are not legal citizens:
o Half-Indians and half-Chinese
o Migrants from China and Bangladesh and unidentified peoples
• Families of Army (Tatmaday) and Police Force
• Members of USDA, Fire-brigade, Red cross and Swan-Ahr-Shin7
• So-called Non-Governmental Organizations8
• Over 1000 National convention delegates
• 28 Ceasefire ethnic armed groups9
• 14 Members of Parliament who were delegates of the national convention10
• 7 Pro-SPDC political parties including NUP, the runner-up in 1990 election11

1 Law 25: Whoever violates any prohibition contained in section 24, attempts to violates as such, commit any criminal act by conspiring to violate or abet in violation, shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or with a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand kyats or, with both.
2 Law 23: The Commission shall, after holding the referendum, combine the lists of advance ballot papers
submitted by the State or Divisional Sub-commissions under sub-section (d) of section 22 and lists of advance ballot papers counted by the Commission under sub-section (e) of section 22, declare the number of eligible voters, number of voters in favor and the comparison of them in percentage.
3 Law 21 (a): If situation arises to dissolve voting for referendum due to any reasons contained in section 20, the Ward or Village-tract Sub-commission may dissolve some polling booths or all polling booths within its referendum area. If such situation arises, the Ward or Village-tract Sub-commission shall submit its performance immediately to the relevant Township Sub-commission.
4 USDA = The Union Solidarity and Development Association; On 20th April 1996 Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said, “The USDA has become a very dangerous organization as it is now being used in the way Nazi leader Hitler used his brown shirts.”
5 NLD = National League for Democracy, the party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
6 Khonumthung News 15-4-08: Military officials from the battalion based in Chin State will accompany the village heads who will start campaigning among the locals soon to cast the "Yes" vote during the referendum. The village heads were told to prevent any campaigning for casting the 'No' vote in the referendum by any organization in their respective areas. In case, there is any anti-referendum campaign in the area, the village heads will have to inform the concerned authorities immediately.
7 The Swan-ahr-shin was formed by SPDC and was systematically training by the army to terrorize and crackdown on opposition. E.g. it was assigned to crackdown on the tours of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi prior her last house arrest in May 2003.
8 Myanmar Agriculture, Forestry, Livestock and Fisheries Technicians Organization, Myanmar Academics of Medical Science, Myanma Historical Commission, Myanmar Language Commission, Myanmar Academy of Technology, Myanmar Academy of Arts and Science, Myanmar War Veterans Organization, Myanmar Red Cross Society, Myanmar Medical Association, Myanmar Veterinarians Association, Myanmar Dental Association, Myanmar Nursing Association, Myanmar Women's Affairs Federation, Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association, Child Care Association, Myanmar Health Assistants Association, Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Myanmar Rice Dealers Association, Myanmar Banks Association, Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs Association, Myanmar Construction Entrepreneurs Association, Myanmar Engineering Society, Myanmar Archaeologists Association, Myanmar Computer Federation, Myanmar Computer Scientists Association, Myanmar Computer Industrialists Association, Myanmar Computer Enthusiasts Association, Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association, Myanmar Thabin Asiayon, Myanmar Music Asiayon, Myanmar Motion Pictures Asiayon, Myanmar Floriculturalists Association Myanmar Florists Association, Myanmar National Work Committee for Women's Affairs, Myanmar Anti-Drug Association, Myanmar Garment Entrepreneurs Association, Myanmar-Thai Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association, ASEAN Chamber of Commerce and Industry [ASEAN-CCI], Myanmar Edible Oil Dealers Association, Myanmar Goldsmiths Association, Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneurs Association, Mynamar Hoteliers Association, Myanmar Timber Entrepreneurs Association, Myanmar Fisheries Federation, Myanmar Bird lovers Association, Myanmar Economic graduates Association, Myanmar Traditional Medicine Association, Myanmar Sea-farers Association, Myanmar Calendar Advisors Association, Myanmar Geological Association, Myanmar Friends of Forest, Shalon Foundation, Myanmar Border area development Association, Myanmar Literary Assistance Association, Myanmar foreign journalists Association, Myanmar anti-narcotic Association, Myanmar Rice mill owners Association and others
9 Shan State (North) Special Region-1, Shan State (North) Special Region-2, Shan State (North) Special Region-3, Shan State (East) Special Region-4, Shan State (North) Special Region-5 (KDA), Shan State (South) Special Region-6, Shan State (North) Special Region-7, Kayah State Special Region-1, Kayah State Special Region-2, Kayah State Special Region-3, Kayinni National Progressive Party (KNPP) Dragon Group, Kayinni National Progressive Party (KNPP) (Splinter, Hoya), Kayinni National Unity and Solidarity and Organization (Ka Ma Sa Nya), Shan State Nationalities People's Liberation Organization (Ya La La Pha), New Mon State Party, Democratic Kayin Buddhist Association (DKBA), Haungthayaw Special Region Group, Phayagon Special Region Group, Shan State National Army, Burma Communist Party (Rakhine Group), Arakanese Army (AA), Homein Region Welfare and Development Group, Shwepyiaye (MTA) Group, Manpan Regional Militia Group, Mon Armed Peace Group (Chaungchi Region), Mon Splinter Nai Saik Chan Group, Kachin State Special Region-1, and Kachin State Special Region-2
10 Dr. Hmu Thang, U Hla Soe, U Than Htun, U Thein Kyi, U Aung Thein, U Kyi Win, U Tin Tun Maung, U Tin Win, U Mya Hlaing, U Tun Kyaw, U Maung Ohn, U Thet Way, U Than Htun, U San Thar Aung
11 (1) Kokan Democracy and Unity Party (KDUP), (2) Lahu National Development Party (LNDP), (3) Mro or Khami National Solidarity Organization (MKNSO), (4) National Unity Party (NUP), (5) Union Karen
Nationalities League (UKNL), (6) Union Pao National Organization (UPNO) and (7) Wa National Development Party (WNDP)

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