April 14, 2021
Opinions and Commentary

Minoritarian Tyranny: USDP and Military Appointees to Dictate Chin State Parliament

Editorial – 1 February 2011: In the November 2010 elections in Burma, the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) secured only seven out of the 18 contestable Chin State Parliamentary seats, many of them through rigged advance voting procedures, notably in Tedim and Tonzang Townships.

As the first State legislature convened yesterday in the Chin State capital of Hakha, the anti-democratic nature of the military-backed political process became clear. As elections were held in the first legislative session to decide who should lead the State’s law-making body, the USDP won both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker’s positions by a comfortable margin of 14-10, despite the fact that it secured a minority portion of the contestable seats.

U Hau Khin Kham of USDP, elected from Tonzang Township under highly questionable election environment, was appointed Speaker, while U Ohn Lwin of the same party from Matupi was elected Deputy Speaker.

Yesterday’s exercise was only the first in a predictable pattern of the legislative proceeding in the Chin State Parliament where a minority of ‘elected’ officials backed by unelected military officers can manipulate and dictate the legislative agendas in Chin State.

More disappointing is the junta’s decision to appoint ethnic Burmans currently serving in the Burma Army to fill the 25 per cent reserved legislative seats to the Chin State Parliament. The Chin parties argue that the regime could have been more ‘sensitive’ by appointing ethnic Chins from within the rank of the Burma army.

“The Chins know the Chin affairs best,” said Salai Ceu Bik Thawng, General Secretary of the Chin National Party (CNP), which won 5 State Parliamentary seats. “The three Chin parties together won the majority of contestable seats, and we do represent the larger voice of the Chin electorate,” he added.

In the November 7 elections of 2010, the Chin National Party (CNP) won five State legislative seats, the Chin Progressive Party (CPP) five seats, and the Ethnic National Development Party (ENDP) one seat respectively. By comparison, the USDP only won seven seats. Only 18 of the 24 legislative seats were contestable in Chin State, according to the 2008 Constitution, which allows for the military to appoint 25 percent of the seats in all law-making bodies of the country.

“We thought that at least the Deputy Speaker’s position would be allocated to one of the Chin parties in the spirit of cooperation, and for the sake of the Chin people within the new legislative framework. This took us all by surprise,” the CNP leader said.

This situation naturally begs the question – Whether the regime’s version of democratization is really about real democracy? Or whether this is a further entrenchment of a system of oligarchy?

What is evident from yesterday’s exercise in Chin State was that the regime’s version of disciplined democracy is only a system in which a minority group of people, backed by the military, can dictate and impose tyranny on the majority.

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