RANGOON — Less than a week since he was declared winner in Naypyidaw’s Dekkhinathiri Township, National League for Democracy (NLD) MP-elect Thant Zin Tun is both facing and fielding legal complaints over pre-poll and election day conduct.
Thant Zin Tun, provisionally the Lower House victor in Parliament’s Dekkhinathiri constituency, told The Irrawaddy that he had filed a complaint against Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation Myint Hlaing, his primary opponent in the Nov. 8 vote, for alleged abuse of power and vote-buying during the election’s campaign period.
“I’ve filed the complaint but the police station has not opened a case. The head of the police station put off opening the case, giving this and that reason. Therefore, I have filed a complaint with the court. I have witnesses and evidence [to prove the allegations],” said 38-year-old Thant Zin Tun, who claims that the minister attempted to buy votes in Kyay Sa U, Yan Aung Myin and Thiri Mingalar villages by giving cash and in-kind gifts to local residents.
The Union Election Commission declared Thant Zin Tun winner of the Dekkhinathiri seat on Nov. 12, beating out 62-year-old Myint Hlaing of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and one other candidate.
According to locals of Thiri Mingalar village, the sitting minister presented residents of Thiri Mingalar with solar-powered lamps, gave out cash, clothing, umbrellas and food items in other villages and promised to secure legal legitimacy for a squatter village in the area.
Meanwhile, Nwe Nwe Kyi, who served as a polling officer at polling station No. 13 in Kyay Sa U village, has filed a complaint with the Dekkhinathiri Township police against Thant Zin Tun for allegedly disturbing voters and polling station staff on election day, charges lodged under the Election Law’s sections 60 and 62.
Violation of either of these two sections is punishable by a maximum one year’s imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 100,000 kyats (US$77), or both.
“I was summoned to the police station on November 11 because I was sued. And I counter-sued the polling officer under Election Law Section 61. In fact, they want to disqualify me so that the runner-up, U Myint Hlaing, can take my place. That’s why they are doing this,” said Thant Zin Tun, who previously told The Irrawaddy that his election day conduct was intended to prevent the polling station officer from assisting ordinary voters with stamping their ballot.
Section 61 carries the same maximum penalties as sections 60 and 62, and criminalizes vote soliciting or otherwise attempting to persuade or dissuade a voter from casting a ballot for a particular candidate.
Voters of Kyay Sa U village were considered a base of support for Myint Hlaing, but the NLD’s Thant Zin Tun edged out the minister by 145 votes at the village polling station.
Across the entirety of the Dekkhinathiri constituency, the NLD candidate beat out his USDP rival by 2,125 votes, notching 9,421 tallies compared with 7,296 for Myint Hlaing.
Out of eight townships in the Naypyidaw Union Territory, the NLD won seven seats in the Lower House and both Upper House constituencies, with the USDP’s Hla Htay Win recording the ruling party’s only successful parliamentary bid in the Lower House’s Zayathiri Township constituency.
Translated by Thet Ko Ko.