Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Preparations begin for ward, village administrator vote

Ward and village tract administrators will be selected through “democratic means” this month, an official from the General Administrative Department in Nay Pyi Taw said last week.

The administrators will be selected through two rounds of secret voting, as mandated under the Ward and Village-tract Administration Law, which was enacted earlier this year.

“We are going to select them according to the law and rules and regulations specified,” U Aung Khin, secretary of Nay Pyi Taw Council, said on December 3.

Township level administrators will appoint a supervisory body of five respected residents to oversee the voting process in each ward and village tract. The body has to combine households into groups of 10, with each group holding a secret ballot to select a nominee. From the leaders of each group of 10 households, an administrator for each ward and village tract will be selected through secret ballot.

The President’s Office had recommended removing the provision that leaders of each 10-household group be selected through secret ballot and instead chosen through negotiation. However, legislators narrowly voted down the proposal 278 to 236 at a Pyidaungsu Hluttaw session on February 22, arguing the change would make the selection process undemocratic.

Negotiated selection was included the original draft submitted to the hluttaw by the Ministry of Home Affairs in August 2011 but later amended by lawmakers.

During the debate on February 22, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker U Khin Aung Myint floated the idea of allowing communities to choose which method they preferred to use but this was also rejected.

Some Nay Pyi Taw residents said last week they expect the ward and village tract selection process to be more free, fair and transparent than under the former military government.

“The elections will be more free and fair than in the past because some people, including members of the National League for Democracy and Union Solidarity and Development Party, will be closely watching the process,” said U Hla Aung, who plans to compete in Yan Aung 1 ward in Pyinmana township.

U Aung Khin said the council administrators from the eight townships in Nay Pyi Taw will suggest suitable dates for the appointment process to take place.

One township administrator said the council has already directed administrators to make a preliminary study of the Ward and Village-tract Administration Law, as well as its rules, regulations and procedures. However, incumbent ward and village administrators said they have not received any instructions.

On the administration of ward and village-tracts, the 2008 constitution states only that duties “shall be assigned in accord with the law to a person whose integrity is respected by the community”. Administrators must also be aged 18 or over and be residents of the ward or village tract.

The administrator’s main responsibilities are ensuring the security of residents, to prevent crime and supervise ward and village social affairs.

Section 38(a) of the Ward and Village-Tract Administration Law states that the new administrators will receive a monthly allowance from the General Administrative Department budget. The department is under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

“The ministry already has a budget. We will give allowance to [administrators] when the ministry issues a directive to do so,” said U Aung Khin.

– Translated by Zar Zar Soe