Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi pledged to deliver good governance if her party wins the general elections in November in an address to supporters from her home constituency at a campaign rally Monday, while members of her party expressed concern that errors on current voter lists could hamper a fair vote.
She also told the crowd in the rural hamlet of Kawhmu south of the commercial capital Yangon to cast votes bravely in the elections on Nov. 8, which her National League for Democracy (NLD) is largely expected to win over the ruling, military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
“We can’t change some things unless we change the administrative system,” she said. “As everybody knows, we have only two strong parties in this country, [and] one of them has to form a government. … I want you to vote for the NLD to form a government.”
A new government under the NLD would revamp the existing ineffective administrative system so that road repair work, for instance, would be done properly to withstand damage every time it rains, she said.
Khin Maung Soe, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s election campaign, told RFA’s Myanmar Service that the politician’s major message has been for people to vote for the NLD without fear, even though they have been told not to and to check voters’ lists to ensure their names appear on them.
“Someone told Daw [honorific] Aung San Suu Kyi that he was worried about losing his job if he voted for the NLD,” he said. “She said there was nothing to be worried about because if the NLD can form a government, she will make everything transparent.”
Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to continue her campaign on Tuesday in Kawhmu township, one of the most affected areas in the country’s Yangon region hit by Cyclone Nargis in May.
Voter list errors
In the meantime, the NLD has raised doubts about the prospect of free and fair elections on Nov. 8, given errors on current voter lists, including the names of deceased voters, which the Union Election Commission (UED) has failed to correct, said NLD spokesperson Nyan Win at a press conference Monday in Yangon.
The voter list errors could hurt the NLD’s chance for victory in the elections, he said.
When the NLD checked the voter list from Dagon township, immediately north of downtown Yangon, it found the names of more than 50 people who had died, he said.
“We have informed the election commission many times to correct these errors, but they remain unchanged,” Nyan Win told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “If the commission doesn’t correct them until Election Day, we will give these lists to NLD representatives who will be at voting places, and they will reject those who show up claiming to vote under a name that shouldn’t be on the list.”
Tun Tun Hein, an NLD central committee member who is in charge of the party’s voter list reviewing committee, told RFA that the UEC, which collects names for the voter lists, is responsible for ensuring the lists are correct.
Win Htein, a senior NLD staffer, told RFA that he has urged the party’s campaign committee members and lawmakers to take more time to check voter lists for errors.
Voters have until October to amend errors on voter lists, which election authorities have had to base on outdated official lists.
Thu Wai, chairman of the Democratic Party (Myanmar), whose said his own name was not on the voter list, said he had to get a recommendation latter from his township administrator and reapply to vote.
“They blame the machine or computer, but the UEC must check the list,” he said.
“My name still isn’t on the latest voters’ list yet, so I have to go and ask the UEC about it again,” he said.
About 32 million people of Myanmar’s population of more than 53 million will be eligible to vote as long as their names appear on voter lists.
Personal attacks on Aung San Suu Kyi by the hardline nationalist monk group Ma Ba Tha also could hurt the NLD’s chance to win the elections, he said
Ma Ba Tha has been encouraging people in the Irrawaddy, Tanintharyi and Sagaing regions not to vote for the NLD, saying that the party does not support its principles.
“The people who delivered these statements are from the USDP,” Win Htein said. “We have their photos and packets of leaflets as evidence. We reported the incident to the UEC, but it hasn’t taken any action [against Ma Ba Tha and the USDP].”
No military coup
As politicians pressed for votes, Myanmar’s military chief General Min Aung Hlaing said Monday during a press conference that the military, which had run the country without any checks on its power from 1962-2011, had no plans to stage a coup after the elections, and he would welcome a female president.
“My real attitude is not to overturn state power through a coup,” he said. “The military is formed based on rules and discipline. That’s why we want to go forward with rules and discipline, and we have to do so according to constitution. We can’t do something that is not according to the constitution.”
No matter which party wins the elections, the military will continue to hold a quarter of parliamentary seats through appointment.
Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from seeking the presidency under the current military-drafted constitution, because her former husband and two sons are foreign nationals.
The NLD won elections in 1990 by a landslide, but the military junta ruling Myanmar at the time did not acknowledge the victory and kept her under house arrest for decades.
The party boycotted the last general elections in 2010 held during military rule, which were criticized as being rigged in favor of the USDP.
By Khin Khin Ei, Bone Myat, Kyaw Thu, Myo Zaw Ko and Myo Thant Khine for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.