Independent candidates resort to giving leaflets after TV, radio access denied

Source: Mizzima

Independent candidates are being forced to settle for distributing leaflets in their campaigning amid a ban on their television and radio campaign addresses, according to the unaffiliated contenders.

Though they have the right to erect campaign billboard, time was already running out as the junta’s electoral watchdog, the Union Election Commission, had not yet issued regulations regarding billboards.

Some independent candidates were distributing leaflets to voters containing their profiles and interviews with the press.

Kamayut Pyithu Hluttaw (lower house) independent candidate Dr. Phone Win said he had distributed campaign leaflets himself because he was uninformed about the regulation on billboards and because of time-wasting red tape over prior permission for them.

“We distribute our leaflets everyday in the wards. I do it myself along with some assistants. Sometimes, I explained issues to voters if they have any questions. I’m doing my campaign in this way,” he told Mizzima.

He added that he had conducted campaigning with three private cars bearing loudspeakers, sending messages to the public on how to vote.

“We sent our cars to Hlaing and Kamayut Townships one each with speakers … In the next few days, I’ll send these cars to Tamway, Kyimyindine, Dagon satellite town, North Okkalapa, Botataung, Latha and Lanmadaw townships,” he added.

According to the campaign poster and billboard regulation that appeared in the local journal “Weekly Eleven”, these are banned only on transport vehicles.

Since the independent candidates were contesting only in one constituency, the ban on them delivering campaign addresses on television had not had much impact on their campaigns, North Okkalapa Pyithu Hluttaw independent candidate Ba Tint Swe said.

“We need to popularise ourselves in our own constituency so it has not put much pressure on us. We need to focus only on distributing our leaflets in accordance with regulations,” he said.

Despite three visits to the Rangoon municipal committee seeking permission to print the interviews that had appeared in local journals on vinyl, the civic body told the independents they had not yet received “concrete guidelines” on the matter and gave them more appointments for further visits.

“But USDP campaign billboards with two-by-three-foot photos of candidates can be found everywhere, including on lampposts. If we wanted to do this, we’d have to go to the electric power department as well. It would take a lot of time and could reach even to November 7, the polling date,” he said.

Though the independent candidates and political parties were competing fiercely among themselves, he had to prioritise his campaign work around organising voters in North Okkalapa to come and vote on polling date, he added.

“My first work is to urge them to come to polling booths and cast their vote and then organising them to vote for me comes second. In my canvassing work … I’ve found some voters saying they’re not going to vote … in protest as the NLD is not contesting this election,” he added.

Yesterday’s issue of “7 Days” journal  reported there were 97 independent candidates across Burma. In the 1990 general election, 87 independent candidates stood and only six won seats.

Junta Foreign Minister Nyan Win told the UN General Assembly that more than 3,000 candidates were contesting for a total of 1,171 seats in the three Hluttaws (parliaments).

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Mizzima News ( http://www.mizzima.com/ ) is a news organization headquartered in New Delhi, India, run by exiled Burmese journalists. A SEAPA partner, it aims to promote awareness about the situation in Burma and promote democracy and freedom of expression in the country.