Mogul, Minister Among Irrawaddy Election Hopefuls

By Salai Thant Zin 29 July 2015

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Division — President’s Office Minister Thein Nyunt and Irrawaddy Division Transport Minister Than Tun, both members of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), have registered with the local electoral body in Irrawaddy Division as two of nine candidates so far seeking to contest constituencies in the delta region.

“Four [candidates have registered] each from the Union Solidarity and Development Party and the Karen People’s Party, and one independent; altogether nine have registered with the commission to contest the election,” an official from the Irrawaddy Division election sub-commission told The Irrawaddy.

Thein Nyunt, who won a seat in Burma’s 2010 election in Maubin Township and was later appointed to his current President’s Office post, will contest again in the same constituency for a seat in the Lower House.

Irrawaddy Division Transport Minister Than Tun also contested in Maubin Township in 2010 and won a seat in the divisional legislature, a feat he hopes to repeat in November.

“I decided to contest for a second term as there is work I have yet to do for the development of my region,” Than Tun told The Irrawaddy.

The USDP has thus far fielded one other candidate, Saw Thaung Tan, for the divisional parliament.

Businessman and sitting USDP parliamentarian Yan Win will also run again this year, though he hopes to shift from his current seat in the regional legislature to the Union Parliament, where he will contest Upper House constituency No. 8, comprising Maubin and Nyaungdon townships.

Yan Win’s A1 Group of Companies is attempting to build a coal power plant at Nga Yoke Kaung, in Irrawaddy Division’s Ngapudaw Township, a proposed joint venture with Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation that has met mounting local opposition.

Amid a hiatus in survey work for the controversial development, the candidate assured The Irrawaddy that the project would proceed as planned, falsely claiming that it would be partially financed by the Asia Development Bank (ADB), which the institution has repeatedly denied.

Also seeking seats in the delta will be one candidate from the Karen People’s Party campaigning for the Upper House and three others for the divisional parliament.

Additionally, Khin Yi, a woman contesting independently of a political party, will seek a seat in the divisional parliament from Leymyethna Township, according to data from the Irrawaddy Division election sub-commission.

The sub-commission has announced that a total of 92 seats will be at play in the division, meaning that would-be candidates now have only 10 days to formalize their interest in contesting the vast majority of the region’s races.

The Union Election Commission (UEC) has set an Aug. 8 deadline for candidacy submissions.

Irrawaddy Division returns 26 lawmakers to the Union Parliament’s Lower House and holds 12 seats in the Upper House.

The divisional legislature seats 54 elected parliamentarians of a total of 72, according to the Myanmar Development Research Institute.

More than 4 million people in Irrawaddy Division were identified as eligible voters on preliminary voter lists released by the regional election sub-commission earlier this year.