YCDC Candidates Doubt Integrity of Municipal Poll

By Bone Myat 19 December 2014

RANGOON — With just over a week until election day, several candidates have voiced doubts over the integrity of the Yangon City Development Committee’s looming poll.

Candidates Win Cho, Naw Hla Hla Soe and Dr Aye Min held a press conference on Monday, noting that the YCDC had failed to take action against candidates who posted vinyl sheets around the city despite an earlier ban, and alleging that the YCDC Election Commission had left eligible voters off the rolls.

“The Election Commission said it would not allow using vinyl sheets in campaign,” Win Cho, a former political prisoner contesting a seat on the Rangoon West District Committee, told The Irrawaddy. “But many candidates are using vinyl sheets. There are vinyl sheets of General Soe Htay. This shows [the election] is not free and fair and not transparent.”

Candidates at the press conference claimed that some eligible voters had been excluded from electoral lists by the commission, despite having national identification cards and valid household registration cards.

“We have faced some difficulties. So, it is quite difficult for us have trust [in the commission]. We have sent some complaints and made some requests, but the commission has not responded,” said Naw Hla Hla Soe, who is contesting a seat on the Rangoon North District Committee.

Zin Min Hlaing, head of office at the YCDC Election Commission, said that the candidates’ complaints were groundless.

“Using vinyl sheets [by some candidates] is nothing to do with us. It is up to concerned district and township municipal authorities. We have told them not to allow it and we’ve explained this to candidates.”

A spokesman from the commission said that lists of eligible voters in various townships are still being compiled.

The Irrawaddy reported on Dec. 5 that the ban on campaign signage had been issued by the YCDC itself, bypassing the local election commission. Tin Aye, the commission chair, voiced support for the ban on the grounds that excessive signage would make Rangoon “look bad”.

A total of 291 candidates will contest 119 seats across the YCDC on Dec. 27, including four seats on the divisional committee, 12 seats across four district committees and 99 seats across 33 township committees. A further five members will be appointed to the divisional committee by the municipal government.

Seats on the divisional, district and township committees of the YCDC have been occupied by military-appointed officials since 1962.