2010 Election: Legitimacy and Credibility

by: Htun Aung Gyaw

The ruling Junta SLORC/SPDC has no legitimacy and credibility after it lost the election in 1990. Burma’s last election on May 27, 1990 turned out a huge victory for the opposition political party National League for Democracy (NLD), which won 82% of the parliamentary seats. The junta has no legitimacy to rule after the people voted for the opposition political party.

Unfortunately the ruling junta, State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) annulled the election results and said there was no appropriate constitution and that they have to first draw the constitution. When the regime shamelessly denied to hand over the political power to the NLD party, it lost its credibility on the world stage.

The regime called the national convention with handpicked people; they allowed the NLD party to attend the convention but all the participants were forced to accept the direction that the regime wanted. NLD party and Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD) walked out from the convention because they could not express their opinions. The 2008 constitution was written only with the regime’s handpicked people, and not the elected parliamentary members voted by the people from the 1990 election. As a result the 2008 constitution has no credibility and legitimacy whatsoever.

SLORC changed its name to State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) after it lost the election in 1990 and made an excuse that there was no appropriate constitution to transfer the political power to the winning party- NLD. SPDC’s one sided constitutional drawing process took 16 years and finally it was approved in 2008. That was the way the 2008 Burma constitution was born. The question is why doesn’t SPDC transfer the political power to the winner party under the new constitution instead of creating another election in 2010? Still today, the regime deny to officially explain the 1990 election results. What is the meaning of the 1990 election? Is the 1990 election for transfer the political power to the winning party? If not, what is the reason to make the election in 1990? The regime still avoids to answer these questions and instead the junta is planning the election in 2010.

2010 is approaching but the regime has not announced the election rules yet. Some politicians giving in to the undemocratic 2010 constitution and plan to enter the election hoping that they can get inside the parliament and fight against the evil system.

But General Than Shwe made it clear in his speech on October 9, 2009 at the Veteran’s convention that no one should expect to get “a Mature democracy” after the 2010 election. It means he or his gang will continue to rule the country after the election and there will be no freedom of expression or freedom to criticize the ruling junta in any way. Politicians and international players who are optimistic about the election need to carefully analyze what he said.

Recently, movie actor Kyaw Thu, who is famous not only for his acting but also for his free funeral service and free healthcare for the poor was summoned to the court for not digging 5 feet wide and 5 feet deep trench in his new service building by the municipal. Kyaw Thu refused to do that because there is no drainage pattern nearby his building. He explained that if he digs 5X5 trench the water will surround his building and there will be a lot of mosquitoes sprouting in it and would be unfavorable for patients and workers there.

Kyaw Thu’s case highlights another signal to the world that the ruling generals are not going to give freedom and democracy to its own people. The regime is very paranoid about the popularity of an individual who is admired by people in general. When Kyaw Thu started his mission to help weak and poor people, he got a lot of support from the mass and admiration by many classes in the country. He got a lot of donation from people and his service grew from a few people to two hundred employees and volunteer doctors. A non-profit organization like Kyaw Thu’s is facing harassment. His popularity among the people is a threat to the junta. It is another indication that the junta will not allow political parties to become popular or win in the coming election.

The international players who want to see a free and fair election need to know the detailed movements inside Burma just like the Kyaw Thu case. Even the NGOs are not allowed to function freely in Burma. How can political parties run the election in 2010?

Under military rule, the civil society has weakened sharply. Student Unions were targeted as enemy of the state, as well as other class-based organizations. Today, Burma still does not have freedom of association, publication or expression. Without freedom of association and a strong civil society, Burmese people will get fake democracy under the Than Shwe organized crime syndicate, which has no legitimacy and credibility to rule Burma.

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