Litany of elec­tion com­plaints sub­mit­ted to Myan­mar po­lice

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Htet Khaung Linn Cour­tesy of Myan­mar Now

For 53-year-old car­toon­ist Hla Khin, ap­pear­ing in court will be a novel ex­pe­ri­ence. The res­i­dent of Yan­gon’s South Dagon town­ship said he felt hu­mil­i­ated af­ter po­lice in­formed him that he was to be charged with an of­fence re­lated to Myan­mar’s Novem­ber 8 elec­tion.

Polling sta­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the rul­ing Union Sol­i­dar­ity and De­vel­op­ment Party (USDP) had filed a com­plaint against him for seal­ing the ballot boxes con­tain­ing ad­vance votes in­side four polling sta­tions on elec­tion day.

Hla Khin, lo­cal chair­man of the cam­paign com­mit­tee for the Na­tional League for Democ­racy (NLD), which won the elec­tion by a land­slide, told Myan­mar Now that he had worked to­gether with lo­cal elec­tion com­mis­sion of­fi­cials.

“Some party rep­re­sen­ta­tives com­plained that the ballot boxes con­tain­ing ad­vance votes were not sealed at 12 polling sta­tions in our ward. So I dis­cussed with the sec­re­tary of the ward elec­tion com­mis­sion and took re­spon­si­bil­ity for seal­ing the ballot boxes.

“I re­quested per­mis­sion from the polling sta­tion of­fi­cers and sealed the boxes only when they let me. But af­ter do­ing that in four polling sta­tions, other polling

sta­tion of­fi­cers asked me not to do it so I stopped,” he told Myan­mar Now, sip­ping tea at a road­side teashop.

The USDP rep­re­sen­ta­tive has ac­cused him of en­ter­ing the polling sta­tions with­out per­mis­sion, an of­fence un­der ar­ti­cle 59 of the elec­tion law, but Hla Khin said he would prove he sealed the boxes with per­mis­sion from ward elec­tion of­fi­cials. In the mean­time, he has filed a counter law­suit against his ac­cusers for defama­tion.


Ac­cord­ing to the elec­toral laws in Myan­mar, com­plaints over be­hav­iour that vi­o­late the elec­tion law must be made within 15 days of the elec­tion.

In that time pe­riod - be­tween Nov. 8 to Nov. 24 - there were 422 com­plaints made at po­lice sta­tions across the coun­try, sta­tis­tics from the Myan­mar Po­lice Force show. De­spite re­peated calls to the po­lice and the Union Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (UEC), Myan­mar Now was un­able to find out how many com­plaints there were in the 2010 elec­tions.

A ma­jor­ity of the cases are re­cip­ro­cal com­plaints from two of the coun­try’s big­gest par­ties - the USDP and the NLD. They range from the triv­ial to the se­ri­ous - dis­tur­bances, mis­use of au­thor­i­ties in cam­paign­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, brawls, provo­ca­tion and ob­struc­tion were just some of the causes cited.

None of the cases have been con­cluded.

Th­ese com­plaints would not lead to the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of can­di­dates, but they hint at bit­ter feel­ings be­tween the two ri­val par­ties at lo­cal level de­spite the con­cil­ia­tory tone of the lead­ers fol­low­ing USDP’s hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat.

One of the com­plaints came from Ohn Myint, cur­rent Union Min­is­ter for Live­stock and Fish­eries and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment, who con­tested the Kyauk­tan Town­ship in Yan­gon.

He ac­cused his op­po­nent Aye Mya Mya Myo from the NLD, to whom he lost a Lower House seat, and other mem­bers of the party of ob­struct­ing the USDP’s cam­paign with cars and mo­tor­cy­cles.

Aye Mya Mya Myo, how­ever, said the po­lice did not in­form her about the com­plaint. Upon in­ves­ti­ga­tion, she dis­cov­ered that party mem­bers were charged with Ar­ti­cle 341 of the Pe­nal Code, which con­cerns wrong­ful re­straint of any per­son and could lead to a prison sen­tence un­der the elec­tion laws.

“We did not know Min­is­ter Ohn Myint was (in those vil­lages). We did not event get to those places be­cause his supporters were block­ing the way and we wanted to avoid any prob­lems,” Aye Ma Ma Myo said.

“This is an un­just com­plaint. We don’t know what will hap­pen as we were not in­formed about the charge but we are now con­sult­ing with our lawyer. I want to fo­cus only my job, and don’t want to get into trou­ble with any­one,” she added.

Many com­plaints in Yan­gon

Yan­gon, Myan­mar’s big­gest city, had the higher num­ber of com­plaints filed, with 58 cases.

Nyunt Tin, di­rec­tor of Elec­tion Tri­bunal, how­ever, said they had yet to re­ceive any com­plaints that could lead to the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of elected can­di­dates, which re­lates to Chap­ter 14 of the Union Elec­tion Com­mis­sion Law.

Sai Kyaw Thu, di­rec­tor at the UEC, said cur­rent com­plaints to the po­lice come un­der Chap­ter 13 of the Elec­tion Law which cov­ers po­lice cases.

“Any­one who is con­cerned with the elec­tions can be charged within 15 days from the day af­ter polling day. Roughly, the po­lice cases cover al­le­ga­tions where peo­ple are ac­cused of vot­ing twice, sub­sti­tute vot­ers, vot­ing on be­half of some­one else, use of power in vot­ing, and dis­turb­ing the other vot­ers,” he said.

If found guilty, de­fen­dants could be sen­tenced to one year im­pris­on­ment or a 100,000 Ky­ats ($77) fine, while the false com­plainant may be handed a three year sen­tence or a 300,000 Ky­ats ($231) fine.

If a com­plaint were to be lodged un­der Chap­ter 14 of Union Elec­tion Com­mis­sion Law, how­ever, only a ri­val can­di­date or a voter in a spe­cific con­stituency can do so, Sai Kyaw Thu said.

Chap­ter 14 stip­u­lates that it is un­law­ful for an elec­tion can­di­date or his/her rep­re­sen­ta­tive to bribe, dis­turb the elec­tions, urge any voter to bring the ballot pa­per out­side the polling sta­tion, or ask the vot­ers to vote for or against a cer­tain po­lit­i­cal party.

The law also pro­hibits pub­lish­ing cam­paign state­ments, doc­u­ments and posters with­out men­tion­ing the names and ad­dresses of the printer and pub­lish­ers. It also stip­u­lates ac­tions can be taken against if cam­paign fi­nances are in­cor­rectly stated or if the can­di­dates fail to sub­mit them.

If found guilty, the can­di­dates can be dis­qual­i­fied.

Th­ese com­plaints can be made within 45 days of the elec­tions, and re­quire the com­plainant de­posit 500,000 ky­ats with the UEC.

Han­dling com­plaints

A po­lice of­fi­cer from Thingangyu­n Po­lice Sta­tion said the com­plaint that cov­ers from Ar­ti­cle 57 to 63 in Chap­ter 13 of Elec­tion Law can be filed at a po­lice sta­tion, and the law­suit can be filed at the town­ship court.

Al­though po­lice can ar­rest the de­fen­dant, he can be re­leased on bail. How­ever, a false com­plaint is con­cerned with Ar­ti­cle 64, and the com­plainant can­not be re­leased on bail.

Hla Khin from South Dagon, who has been sum­moned to ap­pear in court on Dec. 9 , said his con­science is clear.

Mil­i­tary per­son­nel wait to vote. Photo: Myan­mar Now

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