Voting cancellation seriously hurts ethnic representation


    Interview with Kachin Democratic Party candidate U Lwam Zaung

    Thuta Linn — “This issue is a big loss for the local residents. Some of the places are too far away from the town. Since voting was canceled, it is already a big loss for these areas,” says U Lwam Zaung, the youngest candidate from the Kachin Democratic Party (KDP).

    Q: What factors give you strength in running as a candidate in Kachin State?
    A: I’m a true resident of Kachin State. As I’m a native ethnic resident, I’m running [in the election] to truly represent ethnic people from various levels. There are many ethnic tribes in my Constituency No 2. Besides, it is also the base of the [Burmese Army’s] Northern Command. What I want to say is that I’m running here as I believe I can represent not only the Kachin people but also ethnic people from various levels.

    Q: What are the public’s views towards the election in your constituency and how much do they understand about the election? How is the situation with voting?
    A: Generally, the constituents are quite weak in electoral knowledge. During my rally, only half of the audience raised their hands when I asked them to raise their hands if they understood how to vote.

    Another thing is that they will need to stamp [in the ballot]. People from here couldn’t even hold ball pens normally so it’s a very new for them and there may be weaknesses.

    Q: Voting has been canceled in over 200 village tracts so how much can this cancellation affect Kachin State?

    A: This issue is a big loss for the local residents. Some of the places are too far away from the town. Since voting was canceled, it is already a big loss for these areas. The voting cancellation in over 200 [village tracts] in the Kachin State shouldn’t have really happened. The election should be held in any place or area. Since it has been canceled, this can seriously hurt ethnic representation.
    Q: Battles has resumed in some areas in the Kachin State last month. Can these battles affect the election in the Kachin State?

    A: The resumption of battles evidently shows how much respect both armies have for the election. The ethnic army has already announced that it will not launch any attacks during the election period. If possible, I don’t want battles to take place again during the election period.

    Q: How much confidence do you have in running against other parties in your constituency? What is the condition of the competition?

    A: I have 12 competitors. Thirteen candidates are running for the State Parliament including myself. It’s a 12:1 ratio. I’m a local resident so I know the situation of the people from my constituency. So the percentage is 50-50.

    The Northern Command is in this area. So, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has surely won over the people from there. It’s not convenient for me to campaign there. Besides, there’s also the NLD.

    Although both the NLD and the USDP are powerful parties, their candidates aren’t that strong. So, I will need to run against the two big parties for the remaining 50 percent.

    Q: If you are selected as the representative in your constituency, what kind of opportunities will you first carry out for the local residents? What kind of promises have you given to make changes?

    A: What our area currently faces are human rights violations. There is also no rule of law. I want to say that I will handle these issues thoroughly.

    The Irrawaddy River originated from Kachin State. Besides, there are snow-capped mountains like Hkakabo Razi. When we talk about the natural environment in this area, we need to protect not only the Myitsone area, but also the entire Irrawaddy River.

    In the case of natural resources production, the government has not even given back one percent of the profit to the area so I plan to submit something about this. I also plan to discuss about limiting the production of natural resources to an extent.

    I will also work on creating the situation to implement democracy and thoroughly carry out educational reforms with might.

    I will discuss about our demands to get an increase of 15 percent in budget for education.
    Name: U Lwan Zaung
    Age: 27
    Party: Kachin Democracy Party
    Parliament: Kachin State Parliament Constituency 2 (Myitkyina)
    Education: Bachelor in Law
    Nationality: Kachin
    Occupation: Lawyer

    Source: BNI Online