- By Shin Min
The Union Election Commission is striving to make the upcoming 2020 General Election impartial and free. The following is an interview with UEC member U Myint Naing on the progress and tasks they are undertaking in this regard.
Q: Could you tell us when the draft voters’ list be published, how you compile a comprehensive voters’ list, and ensure IDPs and migrant workers are included?
A: We work closely with the Ministry of Office of the Union Government and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population to ensure the voters’ list is comprehensive.
We started collecting population lists and data from the third week of this June. We review the compiled lists and then convert it into the voters’ list in line with established Hluttaw election laws. Then we put up notices for voters’ list where the commission orders us to.
Here, we also include IDPs, migrant workers, and guests in a given constituency into the voters’ list, in line with set procedures.
Q: How many election objections are still left for the UEC to go through, and how many have you settled?
A: Since the 2018 byelections, there have been two election objections and we have settled both of them. However, one of them has made an appeal.
Q: We know there were constituencies that couldn’t hold elections due to security reasons. Will most of these be able to contend in the coming elections?
A: It was back in 2015. We couldn’t hold the general elections in seven townships due to security reasons. However, we were able to hold the 2017 byelections in two townships from those seven; Mongshu and Kehsi. We are currently aiming to have all constituencies participate in the 2020 general elections.
Q: There have been suggestions to the UEC to conduct voter education in the ethnic languages of each region. Could you elaborate on that and how you will reach out to remote areas?
A: Yes, we did manage to have our voter education posters in ethnic languages during both the 2017 and 2018 byelections. We have also included voter and civil education in the Union Election Commission Strategic Plan (2019-2022). This will support our efforts to improve voter education across Myanmar.
Q: You once said all political parties should participate in the 2020 General Elections within the boundary of the law to ensure it is free and fair. Then there was the open letter from 26 political parties in 24th May and the UEC responded to that as well. Can you give us your perspective on this matter?
A: The UEC has, of course, vowed to make the 2020 General Elections free and impartial within the boundary of the law, transparent, trustworthy, and truly reflect the will of the people.
We request the political parties, Hluttaw representatives and all officials involved to adhere to laws, rules, regulations and ethics in place.
Q: The management of the election sub-commissions are equally important in the electoral process. Is there anything the UEC has particularly done to strengthen the township commission offices?
A: We appoint one of members each to the states and regions and they hold regular meetings will all stakeholders in the elections. This is done more than once and will serve to further strengthen the managerial process of the sub-commissions.
Q: We know that the UEC will organize discussions for political parties according to a set timetable. Could you tell us the earliest time for meeting with them and how you will encourage the public to participate in the elections?
A: We are now beginning meetings with political parties at the state/regional levels. It won’t be long till the UEC holds a meeting with all of them. We will hold the meetings more than once if necessary.
We have a strategic plan to ensure the 2020 general elections are successful. If we follow each step of that plan then everything will go along smoothly. We have already designated 2019 as the year for compiling the voters’ list.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to tell the public?
A: Like I’ve said before, the UEC will ensure the 2020 General Elections are free and impartial by working in line with the five principles mentioned earlier. I kindly request public to actively participate in the elections.
Translated by Pen Dali