Worries abound over Mon State USDP election campaign
October 23, 2015
With elections fast approaching, worries have arisen over tactics used by the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) as election campaigning intensifies in Mon State.
In Mudon and Thanbyuzayat townships, villagers are reported to have been offered payment in exchange for their attendance at campaign rallies supporting Mon State Chief Minister and USDP candidate U Ohn Myint. According to reports, villagers were offered 5,000 Kyat each in exchange for their attendance, in addition to offers of branded USDP party clothing and USDP-funded meals.
Villagers’ accounts suggest that these tactics have had mixed success. Nai Mai, a resident in Pa-Nga Village, Thanbyuzayat Township, explained, “The USDP party came to persuade us to go to join U Ohn Myint’s campaigning in Mudon and Thanbyuzayat townships […] Some people went, but not many. The people who went for the money, meal and clothes were from Middle Burma, those who came to work here. Not many Mon people went […] They came to persuade me as well. But no one went except those who [were already] their members”.
Meanwhile concerns have also been expressed over possible manipulation by Mon State USDP candidate U Aung Than Oo of populations in poorly developed areas. U Aung Than Oo is reported to have promised roads, bridges and electricity to villagers, saying that he will fulfil these promises if villagers vote from him. While not necessarily sinister, these pledges have raised questions of whether U Aung Than Oo truly intends to fulfil these promises if elected to parliament.
In particular, while the party’s underhand tactics become apparent, villagers are worried that the USDP’s election campaign enjoys a special status beyond criticism and regulation. Nai Mai explained, “This electoral practice is directly related to injustice. But no one dares to sue them for it because they are the government”.