Allowing Voting Rights For Domestic Migrant Workers Weakens Ethnic Parties, Kachin Party Says

By Network Media Group
Tuesday, March 10, 2020

A Kachin political party called an amendment of an election bylaw that allows domestic migrant workers the right to vote in Kachin State constituencies after 90 days absurd and wants it eliminated immediately.

“Frankly, I want to say this article must be removed. No other country in the world would enact this kind of bylaw!” Dr M. Kon La, the chairperson for Kachin National Congress party (KNC), told NMG. “This law is unfair…a coalition government or other government, whatever next government, they must remove this law.”

Dr M. Kon La said an amendment of article 10 of the election bylaw weakens ethnic parties’ chances in winning the upcoming national elections.

“Ethnic people who are living in the states have lost their rights. I think the NLD or other parties from the central plains (central Burma) are expected to win in the coming election. According to this law, state-based political parties have a low possibility of winning the election, even though ethnic political parties are merging and trying hard to win. This law poses an obstacle for us.”

Fourteen different ethnic political parties released a statement opposing the amendment on February 24.

The KNC protested against the amendment of article 10 in front of Sein Mya Aya park in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State, on Monday.

Kom Je Tu Seng, from Waingmaw, said ethnic minority groups will lose their rights because out of state workers will be able to vote in constituencies 90 days after they arrive.

Before the amendment was made by the lower house, domestic workers were required to reside in a constituency for 180 days before being allowed to vote.

“According to research documents (on population), there are at least one-million domestic migrant workers in Burma. It’s a huge number of voters. If these people vote in their host constituencies in Kachin State, the rights of indigenous peoples will suffer,” Kom Je Tu Seng told NMG.

Nan Zeng Htang Htu said the government should listen to the voices of ethnic people and respect the rights of indigenous peoples. “The government shouldn’t allow domestic migrants to vote in host constituencies if they don’t have a family registration with the department of population in Kachin State.”

“I think if they want to vote in the election they should go back to vote in their own constituency,” she said. The government needs to get rid of this new amendment in all the ethnic states.

Demonstrators chanted for a “free and fair 2020 election” and to “remove all obstacles for the road to federal democracy” by repealing the amendment.