By Tommy Pauk
The five-year term of democratic government for the Republic of the Union of Myanmar elected by democratic general elections is going to expire soon. The free and fair elections were successfully held by the government of the State Peace and Development Council or junta government in 2010. The regime had paved the path to the democratic state in accordance with the political aspiration of the entire people of Myanmar. General public are getting familiar with the basic voting process at the polling stations and the specific method to cast the ballot systematically. Now, all the eligible voters of Myanmar citizens are in eager anticipation for voting in the upcoming elections. Notably, Myanmar is a country or society characterized by having many ethnic groups. Myanmar language is widely used or spoken in Myanmar, but most of the eligible voters from ethnic minorities cannot read and write in Myanmar Language. Therefore, the names of the parties, candidates and instructions of the voting process in the polling stations must be written or stated in their ethnic languages so that they can cast the vote clearly, conveniently and smoothly. Otherwise, they will lose their franchise in democratic elections due to language barrier. They value their right to vote in elections because they aspire for democratic culture and need to elect the right representatives for the Hluttaws. The 75% of Myanmar’s total population is farmers and some of them cannot read and write Myanmar language. In this case, the election commission volunteers are required to assist some farmers in voting at the polling stations. Similarly, the volunteers will have to give guidance to other voters who are illiterate. The eligible voters of persons with disabilities and internally displaced persons should get access to cast the vote with the help local volunteers. We need to help UEC volunteers so that the elections can be held smoothly and successfully. According to the constitution, the voters are given right to revoke or recall a representative of the Hluttaw. The Section 396 in the chapter (9) of the Constitution has prescribed ‘Recalling a representative of the Hluttaw’. The just elections and the authentic people’s representatives work together for establishing a democratic society. The citizens are also responsible for not only choosing right representatives but also for compliance on the set of democratic principles and norms. In addition, the government, citizens, parliamentarians must be able to practice democratic norms and principles properly, effectively and consistently. The voters are no longer gullible and they do monitor what and how their representatives do, speak and agree in Hluttaws or parliament assembly .e.g putting forward motions, voting and rejection on some proposals on behalf of the people. The people’s representatives must respect people from all works of life and loyal to the state. They should bear in mind that they are elected by the people for the interests and benefits of the people as well. The representatives are not supposed to be intoxicating with power or privileges or positions. They must be willing and daring to discuss or propose or demand or favor for people’s interests and benefits in line with democratic rights. Unless they act, they cannot be regarded as people’s representatives. They must stand firmly or seriously on people’s desires or wishes which basically include solving unemployment problems, upgrading education system, upgrading public health care, upgrading the living standards of workers and farmers and tackling hike prices of commodities. These issues are to be addressed in the respective Hluttaws by the people’s representatives in order to find the right, practical and effective solutions. Whenever the periodical Hluttaw assembly is over, they need to give feedback to their voters on the outcome of the discussion from the Hluttaws. Undoubtedly, the upcoming Democracy General Elections in the country will be fair and square or free and fair. Now, every Myanmar citizen trusts on the Union Electoral commission and the present democratically-elected government. The voting age is 18 in Myanmar. The eligible voters of Myanmar citizens nationwide are so eager to choose the right candidates or representatives who are really determined to submit or materialize the needs and wants of the respective constituents to the parliament. Furthermore, people have great expectation to see free and fair election. The officially registered parties are busy canvassing for the vote nationwide. Generally, voters are gullible for the promise, pledge and commitment made by candidates in the period of election campaigns. The voters humbly think that the candidates would surely keep their words and promises for the interests and welfare of the communities concerned in the specific constituency. The eligible voters vary in social classes or educational status, but they ought to know the profile of the candidates for their constituency. Even then the voters have to see and check the electoral register or electoral roll before the election period or date. Unless some voters find their names on the voters’ list before the event of election, they can complain about this to the Election sub-commission in their areas and ask the office personnel to putting their names on the list correctly and precisely. Human rights and rights of democracy are interdependent and they cannot be separated or split apart. Free and fair elections portray the political rights as well as sustainable development of democracy in this country. The voters are awarded political rights to choose the right eligible candidate for serving national politics as well as party politics democratically. Although these two terms are different, the goal of serving for our motherland –Myanmar – is the same. The citizens who have legal rights to vote are Myanmar citizens, naturalized citizens and associate citizens. Obviously, the candidates are also pure citizens of Myanmar (inclusiveness of all national races residing in Myanmar) and they must be familiar with the locals – from grass root level to the elites. Also they must have learnt the requirements or necessities for socio-economic development of the regions or divisions or states. By any means, they are the peoples’ representatives elected to talk or discuss or propose public affairs, public demands and public aspiration in respective parliaments. They ought to represent farmers, workers and general public as well. On behalf of the farmers, the people’s representatives must find the solutions and justice especially for land-grab issues. It is strictly prohibited that they are not allowed to create any personality cult of somebody in the parliament or Hluttaw assembly instead of working for the general public. Members of parliament are given rights to submit, express or talk about the people’s actual feelings, comments, criticism and complaints concerning the public services and administration. As for an example; people want the public services and administration to be efficient and improved. The voice of the parliamentarians and the people’s voice must be exactly the same. The types of eligible voters can be classified as ordinary voters, floating voters or swinging voters, members of political parties, government employees (inclusive of military service personnel). According to 2008 constitution, the persons who are ineligible for voting in any elections are: (a) members of religious orders; (b) persons serving prison terms; (c) Persons determined to be of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court; (d) persons who have not yet been declared free from insolvent; (e) persons disqualified by election law. The citizens’ political rights should be applied by casting ballot to elect the right and authentic representatives for the respective parliaments. In other words, this act reveals the participation of people in politics aiming at building democratic state. These days, we, Myanmar people are not politically naïve any longer. We are smart enough to assess the caliber of the representatives who are going to contest the elections. Besides, we are simple, but not gullible as we have learned the candidates profiled in the pamphlets precisely before the election period. If there is widespread apathy among voters, something terrible must be wrong with either candidates or the electoral process. Moreover, disenfranchisement of voters can causes distrust on UEC and it threatens democracy. However, we believe that the upcoming electoral process will be easy, free, flawless and convenient for the eligible voters to cast vote for the people’s representatives in the election. Also the eligible candidates are thoroughly scrutinized to be elected by the voters from respective constituencies across the country. It is learnt that more than 90 parties are registered to contest the upcoming general elections. The voter education programs, scrutinizing eligible candidates and the integrity of the election process will undoubtedly help the authentic people’s representatives win landslide victory in the election. In conclusion, people’s representatives are democratically elected by the people for democratization in Myanmar. People, parliaments and democratic government will have to march towards genuine democratic state harmoniously and rhythmically. We, all citizens welcome free, fair, flawless and credible elections in Myanmar !!!