UMFCCI extends voter deadline ahead of election
THE Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) held an “urgent meeting” yesterday and agreed to extend the deadline for voter registration ahead of an upcoming election.
The nation’s leading business body will hold an election on September 17, in which members who have registered to vote will elect an executive committee, which elects a smaller central executive committee, from which emerge the president, treasurer and other senior figures, according to joint general secretary U Aye Lwin.
Prominent business tycoon U Win Aung, founder of construction firm Dagon International, retained the UMFCCI presidency in the previous 2013 election and remains its head going into the September vote. He and his two companies, Dagon International and Dagon Timber, were removed from the US sanctions blacklist in 2015.
Turnout was meagre at the UMFCCI’s last election in 2013, which saw only 600 or so members out of 20,000 vote, UMFCCI officials told The Myanmar Times at that time. A source at the body, who asked to remain anonymous, said that registration for this election was also in the hundreds. There had been heated debate about whether to extend the original August 30 registration deadline to allow more people to vote, and provide more information about the election process, the source said.
A spokesperson from the UMFCCI’s public relations department told The Myanmar Times yesterday that after an urgent meeting the deadline had been extended.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about the election,” he said. “We need more public knowledge about the process.”
U Aye Lwin said the deadline was being moved to allow members in other regions and cities to vote, and estimated that around 600 had registered for this year’s election. Members must register to vote and cast their ballot in person at the UMFCCI’s Yangon headquarters. Members wanting to stand for election have until September 5 to register and voters have until September 9, according to U Aye Lwin.
Debate over registration deadlines also featured in the 2013 election, which was declared on June 9 of that year with a deadline to register to vote or self-nominate set for June 12. That election was also the UMFCCI’s first democratic process of leadership selection, after an earlier system where the Ministry of Commerce handpicked senior members. But the vote was marred by a computer failure and allegations that the election had been set up so that incumbent EC members would be returned. – Additional reporting by
Zay Yar Linn
UMFCCI members attend a general meeting in 2014.