August 19, 2016

Democracy requires participation


Elections for wards and village-tract administrators are now taking place. However, Myanmar law does not allow residents to vote directly for their chieftains or village heads.Instead, every 10 households nominates a candidate, who is called ‘the head of the ten households’. The head of the ward or village tract is e elected from among the ten-household heads. Thus, the election of these administrators is indirect.
This is not the forum to debate the virtues of direct and indirect elections. It is more important to address the fact that Myanmar peoplepay very little attention to the elections at the ward/village tract level, though they certainly complain about administrators who behave badly. For decades, Myanmar citizens have showed little interest in nominating candidates and have neglected to go to the pollsfor local elections; we often say local politics do not concern us. We say we have to work for livelihoods regardless of who is elected. This mind-setoriginates in the period between 1962 and 1988, when the socialist regime reigned the country.
In fact, the socialist regime had its own version of democracy. Both party members and the non-party members had their say in nominating executive candidates and party leadership candidates. The root cause of non-participation is the crisis of confidence. But the party leaders failed to win the love and trust of the people; they failed to ask for the people’s cooperation, without which the government was unable to execute its plans, programmes and projects. The socialist government was unable to convince the people that politics is everybody’s concern. As a matter of fact, the socialist regime and its successors have all failed to promote the awareness of the importance of political conscientiousness on the part of the people.
This being the case, The Global New Light of Myanmar would like to remind the people of the importance of the people’s participation and cooperation and urge the authorities to promote awareness of the significance of the participatory approach in carrying out democratic practices.


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