UEC Upholds Mandalay Election Results

By Kyaw Myo 14 June 2019

NAYPYITAW—The Union Election Commission (UEC) has dismissed the complaint of a Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) candidate against her National League for Democracy (NLD) rival in last year’s disputed Mandalay Region parliament by-election.

The dismissal means NLD candidate Sai Pan Hsai will remain the Shan State ethnic affairs minister for the Mandalay Regional government.

Nan Htwe Hmone, an SNLD candidate who won the largest number of votes behind Sai Pan Hsai, filed a complaint with the UEC accusing Sai Pan Hsai of vote rigging.

She claimed that ineligible voters voted for her rival and that the head of the polling station allowed it to happen; that Sai Pan Hsai’s polling agent wore an SNLD-party pin while monitoring the polling station; and that Sai Pan Hsai failed to submit a full report of his campaign expenditures to the UEC.

U Sai Pan Hsai’s lawyer, U Myo Swe, told reporters that the UEC dismissed the complaint because Nan Htwe Hmone could not prove any of her allegations.

“So, the UEC ruled that he [Sai Pan Hsai] did not rig the election, and dismissed the complaint,” U Myo Swe said.

Sai Pan Hsai denies withholding information about campaign expenditures. He claimed that those who supported him in his campaign are party members who gave support according to party policy and bore expenses themselves. Because he was not paying them, there was no need to submit a report to the UEC, he said.

Still, Nan Htwe Hmone believes the NLD candidate violated election laws, and said she will submit an appeal.

“The decision suggests that they [UEC] accept the argument that accounts were not submitted according to NLD policy. Article 73 (a), (b) and (c) of the election law clearly explains how accounts must be prepared. I assume that [the NLD candidate] did not do it accordingly,” she told reporters.

“For example,” added Vice Chairman of the SNLD U Sai Nyunt Lwin, “the candidate went [on the campaign trail] with 30 cars. He submitted expenses for only two cars and said the rest were paid for by his supporters, and therefore there is no need to report those expenses. This is what the UEC concluded,” and it’s against the law, he said.

“A candidate would have to incur huge expenses if they visited every township in Mandalay Region so, to reduce this burden, NLD policy is for a candidate to go with one car and a few aides while supporters give a hand in other townships,”  U Myo Swe told reporters. “You can’t count them [as paid campaigners]. The candidate bore no expenses for them.”

Besides, said Chairman of the UEC Tribunal U Aung Myint, the UEC is only authorized to decide matters related to vote rigging and is not responsible for matters outside that scope.

“Even if some of their allegations are true, they have nothing to do with us,” he said.

There were over 42,000 eligible voters in the constituency, but only about 17,900 turned out. Five candidates competed, with Sai Pan Hsai winning over 40 percent of the votes, Nan Htwe Hmone over 26 percent, and the USDP candidate just over 23 percent.

In May, the UEC ruled in favor of an NLD candidate over his USDP rival in last year’s disputed Yangon Regional Parliament by-election in Seikkan Township.

Translated from Burmese by Ko Ko Thet.

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