Next Rangoon Election to Bar 98.5% of Voters

A Buddhist monk crosses the street in front of Rangoon's City Hall in 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

A Buddhist monk crosses the street in front of Rangoon’s City Hall in 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON — Only 1.5 percent of Rangoon’s voting-age population will be allowed to vote in the city’s next elections, according to new rules and regulations approved by the divisional parliament on Friday.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to approve the restrictions on voter participation in elections for the next deputy mayor and other senior officials in the municipal administration, the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC).

The election rules and regulations were drafted by the YCDC and have already been approved by the divisional government. They will go into effect at the end of October—90 days after they were first shown to the divisional parliament. Until then, they may be vetoed by the Union Parliament in Naypyidaw, if lawmakers at the national level oppose them.

Nyo Nyo Thin, a Rangoon divisional lawmaker representing a constituency in Bahan Township, was a lone voice speaking out against the new rules and regulations on Friday. She described them as overly restrictive and undemocratic.

“The government announced last year that the YCDC would need to hold elections,” she said. In the past, municipal officials were appointed by the former military regime.

“So the YCDC drew up a law, but in terms of the rules and regulations, not everyone above the age of 18 can vote. Only three out of 200 people will be allowed to vote, so the new committee will not represent the people,” she said. “They [YCDC] said that if they were to hold a [full] election, it would cost 1.5 billion kyats [US$1.5 million]. They want to cut costs by reducing the number of voters.”

Employees of government departments and members of the police force will also be ineligible to vote, as will former government employees who were dismissed and anyone with a criminal record or a background of corruption.

An election date has not been set, and the mayoral post will not be on the ballot. The mayor is appointed by the president.

An eight-member election commission will select which of the city’s 5 million or so voting-age people will head to the polls. Half the commission members will come from the YCDC, and half will come from township and district government offices.

“They will definitely choose people who already like them,” Nyo Nyo Thin said.

Her concerns were apparently not shared by others in the legislature, who overwhelmingly voted in favor of the new rules.

Before the vote, Zaw Aye Maung, the ethnic Arakanese affairs minister in Rangoon Division, told lawmakers that the divisional government decided to approve the rules because they were in accordance with old regulations of the 1990 municipal law, which established the YCDC. “There’s no need to cancel the new rules and regulations,” he told The Irrawaddy.

9 Responses to Next Rangoon Election to Bar 98.5% of Voters

  1. If it is just about 1,5 million $ US, sure any EU and US or other supporting country to Myanmar is happy to cover the cost to ensure democratic elections, or just take 1,5 years rental fee of the WHO office house at Pyay Rd . Also possible that each voter pays 1 $ US in YGN Democratic Vote fund , and last but not least , U Tay Zar gives 25 % of one of his cars values ” Pocket Money ” as a Good crony to Yangon s development.

  2. Is this like in HongKong or what? Sham democracy! Why isn’t Suu Kyi, our famous democracy icon, complaining?

  3. Is it what regime dregime way of democracy? Very funny.

  4. why vote at all, if true democracy is too expensive???

    In the long run, it may be more expensive, just to pretend a vote.

  5. Monkey’s way to democracy. Monkey’s business is building the Union. Hahahahaha.

  6. Nice story, but it remains unclear to me whether the disenfranchisement is based upon excluding civil servants and criminals or the more arbitrary decision of the eight member electoral commission. Please include more information on this important story because it is not clear to me which one it is. Keep up the good work.

  7. It’s quite simple – if voting changes anything the military make it illegal. Regardless, the time to rise up and throw off the yoke is coming very soon.

  8. Yangon Divisional Parliament members do not know their responsibilities to the people. So the rule of YCDC election went on after approval. How shameful it is. If for the development of city, city people can not vote whole heartedly to who ever they want, then where is democracy?

  9. How depressing… Can these people SPELL democracy..? Rangoon ( sorry YANGON ) needs democracy…. 1 percent is a total joke except I bet they are SERIOUS about it…Easy to know why… The Arrogance and idocy is stunning and shocking… ” in accordance with 1990 rule..” seriously..? the rule made under point of military Junta gun you mean..????

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