By: Sahi Ong, Kaowao
Jul 9, 2009
Some Mon veterans are planning to contest the upcoming general election, while urging their politicians to represent and fully support their electorates in order to avoid a power vacuum in their respective areas.
“It is important to contest as a single political party rather than doing it individually. Otherwise, we may not win enough seats in the 2010 election”, said Dr. Aung Moe, a veteran of New Mon State Party and Mon community leader based at the Three Pagodas Pass border town. He further said that the Mon people should form a moderate or liberal democratic party instead of an extreme nationalist party. Even though the SPDC has sponsored the general election, it is still under their control, it is time to compromise with the military regime for the benefit of the total population in Burma.
Dr. Aung Moe, a well-known national leader, has been involved in Mon community affairs for several years; first as a university student activist, then for many years as a soldier, and now as a community leader. He has published two articles recently about the importance of the election urging the people to decide on who will be the best leader to promote culture, social affairs, and community development. There will be about 80-90 seats to contest for the National Assembly (Ahmyotha Hluttaw), the People’s Assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw) at the Federal, and State Parliament (Pyi-nae Hluttaw). Mon activists have been urged to set up a work plan, select the best candidates, raise fund and open central and local offices. The individuals will not be able to do their work until they form a new political party in accordance with the military government’s guidelines.
Colonel Kaorot of New Mon State Party recently told a Kaowao reporter that some veterans from the party will contest, but did not reveal their names.
From a community source in Moulmein, some activists and senior monks have been discussing on whether to contest, claiming that the Mon people need parliament members to act on their behalf. At the ceremony of summer literacy class in Mon State, a senior monk, Rev Abbot Eindaka, also urged the Mon to take part in the election so that the Mon community will have full representation in the future parliament.
“There are some issues of ethnic minority rights in the new constitution. If we don’t take the chance to contest and get involved now, other candidates, such as Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and National Unity Party (NUP) members, will step in and take it,” said Nai Lwin, a Mon activist. The NUP was formed by the military junta with members of the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) to take part at the previous elections on May 27, 1990.
The Mon veterans and activists also urge the Mon National Democratic Front (MNDF) and the New Mon State Party (NMSP) to prepare for the upcoming election. One pressing issue on everybody’s mind is the Burmese population transfer into Mon State which has threatened the Mon community. If they have no seats, they will not be able to voice their concerns to the government. It is important for the people to be involved, the Mon need to have dialogue, and initiate a process of debate on issues that are of concern; if they are successful, then they can get involved in community development initiatives and cultural affairs such as promoting Mon National Day and education programs for the teaching of the Mon language in their own schools.
Meanwhile, the former army chief of the Mon National Liberation Army, General Nai Aung Naing is reaching out to Buddhist monks and local people to work hard for the election campaign. General Nai Aung Naing formed the Mon Peace and Defense Force (MPDF) to oversee the cease-fire agreement in Mon areas. He is traveling villages and monasteries hoping to organize the public to join his party and participate in the election.
In contrast, the two main political parties, the MNDF and NMSP have stated firmly that they will not participate in the 2010 election. Both parties say that the new constitution, approved by a referendum in May 2008, has many problems that fail to take into consideration democratic rights.
MNDF leader Dr. Min Kyi Win, a Mon MP who was elected in 1990, questioned whether the Mon can fully represent their people in the future parliament due to the fact that ethnic minority rights are written vaguely in the new constitution, which will likely undermine and alter the ethnic rights.
Secretary General of the NMSP, Nai Hongsar, also said that they have to follow the Party’s 7th Congress in which the NMSP had decided not to participate; however, the NMSP will not obstruct those who wish to contest.
Up until now, the SPDC has issued no official announcement on the election law or its procedures, with the Mon politicians trying to sort out on who will do what, where, and what steps to take. Nonetheless, the government-backed USDA members are launching their election campaign. In June 2009, the SPDC’s Brigadier General Ohm Myint urged Nai-prai villagers of Mudon Township, Mon State to go and vote. Nearly 25 per cent of the seats will be reserved for the military in the future parliament; it is believed that the SPDC will not easily defer the remaining seats to other parties.