March 2019
« Feb    
ASEAN ASEAN (R) ASEAN-ISIS Country (R): Indonesia Country (R): Malaysia Country (R): Myanmar Country (R): Singapore Country: ASEAN Country: Australia Country: Cambodia Country: China Country: Germany Country: India Country: Indonesia Country: Japan Country: Laos Country: Malaysia Country: Myanmar Country: North Korea Country: Philippines Country: Qatar Country: Russia Country: Singapore Country: Singapore Country: South Korea Country: Taiwan Country: Thailand Country: UK Country: US Country: USA Country: Vietnam donald trump Elections: Indonesia 2019 Elections: Thailand 2019 European Union Event: SDSWR Events: AAF Focus CH: Hong Kong Focus JP: Abenomics Focus MM: Rakhine State Focus MY: GE14 Focus SG: SG Secure Focus SG: Smart Nation Focus SG: Society Focus TH: Protests Focus UK: Brexit Fukushima Global Citizens Singapore Institute: ERIA Institute: EU Centre in Singapore Institute: SIIA Leaders: Aung San Suu Kyi Leaders: Jokowi Leaders: Kim Jong Un Leaders: Lee Hsien Loong Leaders: Lee Kuan Yew Leaders: Mahathir Mohamad Leaders: Obama Leaders: Trump Malaysia government Myanmar: NLD Nicholas Fang Oh Ei Sun Org: AIIB Org: G20 Region: Africa Region: Asia Region: Latin America Region: Middle East Reports Simon Tay Topic (Environment): Peatland Topic (Environment): Smallholders Topic (R): Belt and Road Topic (R): Business Topic (R): Digitisation Topic (R): Economy Topic (R): Green Finance Topic (R): Infrastructure Topic (R): Palm Oil Topic (R): Peatland Topic (R): Smallholders Topic (R): Sustainability Topic: Anti-Globalisation Topic: Belt and Road Topic: Business Topic: Development Topic: Digitisation Topic: E-Commerce Topic: Economics Topic: Economy Topic: Elections Topic: Environment Topic: Finance Topic: Global Citizens Topic: Globalisation Topic: Green Finance Topic: Haze Topic: Human Rights Topic: Human Trafficking Topic: Indo-Pacific Topic: Infrastructure Topic: Investment Topic: Labour Topic: Nuclear Topic: Palm Oil Topic: Race Topic: Regional Integration Topic: Religion Topic: Security Topic: Singapore-Malaysia Relations Topic: Small States Topic: SMEs Topic: Sustainability Topic: Sustainable/Green Infrastructure Topic: Trade Trade: AEC Trade: CPTPP Trade: FTA Trade: FTAAP Trade: Multilateralism Trade: RCEP Trade: TPP Trade: War Trends (Digital): Cybersecurity Trends (Digital): Data privacy Trends (Digital): Data security Trends (Digital): Digital Economy Trends (Digital): Digitisation Trends (Digital): Facebook Trends (Digital): New Media Trends (Digital): Smart Cities Trends (Environment): Air pollution Trends (Environment): Climate Change Trends (Environment): Energy Trends (Environment): Green Growth Trends (Environment): Hotspots Trends (Environment): Riau Trends (Environment): RSPO Trends (Environment): Sustainability Trends (Environment): Water Trends (Globalisation): ASEAN Citizens Trends (Globalisation): Populism Trends (Globalisation): Workers Rights Trends (Security): South China Sea Trends (Security): Terrorism Trends (Social): Demographics Trends (Social): Diversity United States WTO

Myanmar’s cancelled by-elections


12 Sep Myanmar’s cancelled by-elections

The decision to scrap Myanmar’s by-elections at the end of this year came as a surprise to the country’s political parties, who had been gearing up to contest the 35 empty seats in Parliament.

However, there is nothing political behind the election commission’s decision to cancel the by-elections – according to the SIIA’s contacts on the ground in Myanmar. The National League of Democracy’s (NLD) opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has also welcomed the decision, with her party’s spokesman saying that there has not been “enough time to prepare” for the by-elections.

But questions have risen about whether the Union Election Commission (UEC) is truly independent from Myanmar’s ruling party. Opposition parties, especially those from the violence-prone Rakhine State and Kachin State, have also raised the need to re-examine the UEC’s decision-making process, to ensure that Myanmar will have a free and fair general election in 2015.

Reasons behind the cancellation

While abrupt, the UEC, which was formed in 2010, says its decision to cancel Myanmar’s by-elections is not without grounds. The body announced in a statement that it had only made the decision after consulting with “concerned individuals and organisations”.

The UEC explained that Myanmar, as ASEAN Chair, needs to focus its efforts on organising upcoming high-profile ASEAN meetings such as the 25th ASEAN Summit and the 9th East Asia Summit that will be held in Nay Pyi Taw. US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian leader Narendra Modi, among other leaders, are expected to attend the EAS meeting.

The commission also cited the high costs of holding by-elections, estimated at 2 billion Kyat (S$2.53 million), as a reason for cancelling the vote. With only a year left leading up to the 2015 General elections, newly-elected Members of Parliament would sit for only a short term before they would have to be re-elected again. This would constitute a waste of time, effort and money, not only for Myanmar, but also the country’s nearly 70 political parties.

Larger implications

Notably, this is not the first time that the UEC has changed its mind. Originally, the UEC had announced that Myanmar would not hold a by-election this year, but later backtracked and scheduling them for the end of the year. Now they have been called off again. The by-elections were supposed to give an indication of which political parties would likely win the popular vote in the 2015 General Elections.

When the country first held its first by-elections in 2012, the NLD won 43 out of 44 contested seats. The opposition party’s landslide victory gave a clear indication of Myanmar’s preferred political party at that time.

The commission’s indecisiveness on whether to hold a by-election is unusual. It does not help that this is not the first time that the body’s independence and impartiality has being called into question. The by-elections might have limited political significance on the decision-making processes of Myanmar’s Parliament, but to the rest of the Myanmar population and the international community, a vote at the end of this year would have given a clearer indication of how far the country has progressed since its political opening.


Myanmar Cancels By-Elections in Move Welcomed by Suu Kyi’s NLD [Radio Free Asia, 8 September 2014]

Political parties condemn decision to cancel by-elections [Mizzima, 8 September 2014]

Burmese MPs react differently to cancellation of by-elections [DVB, 8 September 2014]

Photo Credit: Htoo Tay Zar