The National Defence and Security Council of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar held its meeting 1/2023 at the meeting hall of the State Administration Council Chairman Office in Nay Pyi Taw on the morning of 31 January.
It was attended by Pro Tem President U Myint Swe, Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw U T Khun Myat, Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief (Army) Vice-Senior General Soe Win, Union Minister for Defence General Mya Tun Oo, Union Minister for Home Affairs Lt-Gen Soe Htut, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin, Union Minister for Border Affairs Lt-Gen Tun Tun Naung, special invitees SAC Secretary Lt-Gen Aung Lin Dwe, Joint-Secretary Lt-Gen Ye Win Oo, and Union Minister for Legal Affairs and Attorney-General of the Union Dr Thida Oo. Vice-President U Henry Van Thio submitted a leave of absence to the meeting due to a health condition.
First, the Senior General clarified the two-year term service of the SAC, saying that the root cause of taking State responsibilities by the State Administration Council was based on vote rigging in the 2020 multiparty democracy general election of the government which took responsibility in the second term. Tatmadaw repeatedly reminded it not to harm the multiparty democratic system. In verifying Tatmadaw over the list of more than 38.27 million eligible voters officially issued by the previous Union Election Commission, firm evidence was unveiled that more than 10.48 million ballots depended on voting fraud. It can be seen that these were not errors but conspiracies without any verification.
Any country does not accept voting fraud in elections for relevant Hluttaw. It is necessary to seek a third-party organization to scrutinize the voting fraud. It is the Tatmadaw due to the Constitution of the nation and the political history of the country. In Myanmar, officials including UEC did not solve the voting fraud problems. Tatmadaw is responsible for verifying the case as Section 4 of the 2008 Constitution stipulates “The Sovereign power of the Union is derived from the citizens and is in force in the entire country”, Section 6(d) and Section 7, the Union’s consistent objectives are flourishing of a genuine, disciplined multiparty democratic system and Section 6 (f), enabling the Defence Services to be able to participate in the National political leadership role of the State and Section 20 (f), The Defence Services is mainly responsible for safeguarding the Constitution.”
Attempts to convene the Hluttaw committed Section 40 (c) and Section 417 of the Constitution on forcible seizing the State power. According to Sections 62, 63 and 64 of the Constitution, U Win Myint does not have the right to stand as the president because of being Hluttaw representative-elect, serving the party duty and facing a lawsuit of file opened under the law. According to Section 417 of the Constitution (2008), Pro Tem President U Myint Swe convened the National Defence and Security Council meeting and declared a state of emergency. And, then, the legislative, executive and judicial powers of the State were handed over to the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services under Section 418 (a) of the Constitution.
They should have to prove things whether the evidence of voting fraud shown by Tatmadaw was wrong. But they did not dare to do so. In verifying the voter list, Tatmadaw firmly presented the list of voting frauds. They did not prove whether the list of presented by Tatmadaw was wrong.
Attendees to the National Defence and Security Council meeting approved the terms of State responsibilities for the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services.
In accord with the fifth point of the roadmap, “the Union Election Commission will be reconstituted and its mandated tasks, including the scrutiny of voter lists, shall be implemented in accordance with the law”, the SAC formed a new UEC and assigned it.
UEC officials inspected the tasks of Sub-commissions of the UEC together with the township level officials and representatives from relevant political parties in opening the ballot boxes from 17 February to 4 July 2021 and investigated voting fraud and illegal tasks.
In verifying the voter list in the 2020 multiparty democracy general election, it was found that 295,405 persons were included in the list of voters more than three times and 4,869,423 persons did not have any citizenship IDs. Moreover, 11,305,390 voters were involved in the list of vote-rigging process.
The number of the total population above 18 on 1 October 2020 hit 34,350,155 compared to 38,271,447 voters in the election, exceeding some four million. Errors at the polling stations and inappropriate directives for casting without CSC, use of seals and wrong lists of voters were based on conspiracy. It broke laws, rules and disciplines.
The voting fraud in the 2020 election totally depended on the NLD. Influence of the NLD chair committed inappropriate acts based on her political post. U Win Myint also followed it despite being a president at the time.
In the 2020 election, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and ex-president U Win Myint posed direct and indirect pressures on the UEC. So, the UEC broke the laws and bylaws by abusing its authority. Hence, action was taken against ex-president U Win Myint, Union-level officials, ex-chief ministers and officials of UEC over the 2020 election process. Severe punishments were handed down to them.
The NLD chair made a speech at the canvassing through MRTV on 17 September 2020: “The election was not in conformity with the democratic standard. Just 75 per cent of the people were allowed to participate in the election. The remaining 25 per cent was for Tatmadaw. So, NLD needs to overcome 25 per cent of hindrances to forming the government. At least 67 per cent needed to win the election as it participated in the election for 75 per cent. So, all are to actively cast vote for the NLD in all constituencies not need to count the percentage.” NLD revoked some constituencies where it may face loss in the election. So, some ethnic nationals and organizations lost the chance to cast votes. Now, the government is striving for all ethnic brethren to cast votes in all areas of the nation without any vacancies.
The general elections must be held in all regions and states at the same time. The election should not cover just urban areas. It needs to cover the rural areas as well. Some 70 per cent of the total population resides in rural areas. Moreover, it is necessary to create chances for relevant parties and candidates to do canvassing in their respective constituencies.
In implementing the Pankhinn project from 3 May 2021 to 3 January 2023, CSCs are issued to eligible citizens. Now, there remains issuance of CSCs to more than 1.13 million out of 3.4 million people in Kayin, Chin and Shan (North) States and Sagaing Region. Only when CSC are issued to the remaining people will they not lose the fundamental rights of citizens. They have a chance to cast votes holding any ID and they must be free from intimidation and coercion in voting.
With regard to the prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic, from 23 March 2020 to 31 January 2023, 633,819 people were approved positive and 19,491 people were dead, accounting for 3.08 per cent.
During the term of the government, the deputy prime minister held meetings three times a week to fulfil the needs for prevention, control and treatment of the pandemic. Moreover, 1,674 hospitals, clinics, and treatment centres were opened to control infection of the disease and the death rate.
The government built 216 oxygen plants whereas the private sector set up 271 plants to provide healthcare services to the people. People also donated preventive equipment, oxygen and foodstuffs and China and Thailand provided oxygen cylinders. So, the disease could be placed under control.
There are 1,077 hospitals and 11,427 dispensaries across the nation. In the high season of infection, 765 hospitals and 7,430 dispensaries were opened. A total of 54,722 of 103,214 health staff of the Ministry of Health served their duties and 47,254 of the remaining 48,492 staff committed to CDM activities.
Military medical doctors were transferred to the Ministry of Health and other relevant ministries to cooperate with dutiful health staff. Dutiful health staff, military medical service personnel and people made concerted efforts for battling Covid-19.
Covid-19 vaccination covered 31,013,972 people above 18 from 27 January 2022 to 22 January 2023 and 6,810,173 persons from 5 to 18 years old.
Myanmar faced a downtrend in the economy in 2018 due to weakness in economic and trade management. Then, Covid-19 hit the country to plunge its economy. So, the country encountered a trade deficit due to importation without earning foreign exchange. Just importation without prioritizing domestic manufacturing at home caused many weak points.
Myanmar grasped a 7.26 per cent of GDP rate in the first democratic government term with a US$12.097 billion trade deficit and US$11.63 billion foreign investment. In the 2016-17 FY of the second term of the government, the GDP rate reached 5.8 per cent, 2017-18 FY 6.4 per cent, six-month mini-budget for 2018, 6.5 per cent, 2018-19 FY 6.8 per cent, 2019-20 FY 3.2 per cent, 2020-21 (six months) -8.4 per cent. Its trade deficit hit US$12.61 billion.
During the period, ex-state counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi committed nine cases of bribes including bribes from the ex-Yangon Region Chief Minister, causing more than US$4 million loss and more than K49,206 million, ex-president U Win Myint five cases, to lose US$4,088,090 and more than K23,048 million, eight NLD CEC members, 20 regional and state chief ministers and former ministers, causing loss of more than US$13 million and more than K361 billion. These were based on abusing authority and bribery cases.
During the period of our government, the national economy has not developed as much as it should have done so partly because of the sanction being imposed by the international community and partly because of the incitements and instigations by the external elements. No loan or aid has been received because of the political situation. Additionally, the loans and assistance which have already been received during the period of the previous government are all stopped. Even the assistance provided by the United Nations and other Intergovernmental Organizations is all stopped. During the 2020-2021 financial year from 1 October to 30 September, the GDP growth rate was minus 5.9 per cent whereas that of the first half of the financial year 2021- 2022 is 2.4 per cent. Nonetheless, the expected GDP growth rate in the 2022-2023 FY is 3.2 per cent. In the promotion of the national economy, emphasis is not laid on imports. Instead, priority is given to promoting manufacturing domestically. At this juncture, MSMEs are major driving forces in the effectuation of national economic development. In such doing, there are three industries —manufacturing, trading and service industries. The agriculture and livestock breeding sector is the key to the manufacturing industry. Import substitution industrialization and export promotion are the two strategies to earn foreign income.
Concerning the fourth point of the five-point roadmap — i.e., emphasis will be laid on the implementation of the points agreed in the Nation-Wide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), the successive governments have been exerting utmost efforts to attain peace through the employment of various means. Like our predecessors, our government has invariably been implementing the peace process with the emphasis being laid on the points agreed upon in NCA. Our government and Tatmadaw are strongly confident that peace and prosperity are important to bring about national development. This is the reason why Tatmadaw announced a ceasefire to ensure long-lasting peace on 21 December 2018. Not only in 2022 but also for the whole year of 2023 ceasefire has been extended with issuing of 22 announcements. On 22 April 2022, the leaders of the ethnic armed organizations were invited to meet with the Head of State in person for negotiations. Out of the invitees, seven groups have already signed the NCA and three groups which have not yet signed it, totalling 10 groups have given their affirmative reply. Discussions with these groups have already been made three times. During the discussions, matters relating to the pursuit of a genuine multiparty democracy system as well as the building up of the union based on democracy and federalism dominate the meetings. The demands made by the ethnic armed organizations were discussed frankly in light of what is essential to their regions and the nation as a whole. In other words, the discussants were broad-minded with their minds mainly bent on the interests of the union. Particularly speaking, Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Union Agreement and Schedule 2 were agreed upon. And the agreement was signed.
Regarding the indigenous races, it is believed that national solidarity is vital to the nation, and so, efforts are being exerted to remove all the doubts and distrust to ensure the attainment of enduring peace. In such doing, discussions and negotiations are to be made in conformity with democratic practices. Concerning the fifth point of the five-point Roadmap, efforts have constantly been directed towards holding the multiparty democracy election, which plays a paramount part in making the multiparty democracy system flourish in a rules-based manner. At this juncture, the government has made the respective departments prepare for ensuring the accuracy of the basic data and information required for the election. The pilot stage of data collection started in August of 2022 to ensure the accuracy of voters’ lists. The Union Election Commission and the Ministry of Immigration and Population, in cooperation with the General Administration Department, are checking Form 66/6 against the lists on the ground with the use of Form (Htway-1 Kagyi).
As the very essence of democracy is the representation of the people, the election system should reflect the ability to represent the voters. As known to you all, the current election system of First Past the Post (FPTP) lacks the ability to represent the voters. This is the reason why a new election system is being formulated to be representative of the indigenous races, the region inhabited by the ethnic people and various mass and class strata. Only with the introduction of a new election system, will these people be able to become members of Hluttaw.
Retrospecting the past election, we have seen that although 88 political parties have contested the election, only 19 of them could have won the Hluttaw seats. And there are only two individuals who have won the Parliament seats. This election result has shown that the ability to represent the people is quite weak despite the existence of a great number of political parties. We want the political parties to be consolidated so that they can be engaged in the political field more effectively and efficiently. Such being the case, we have amended the Political Parties Registration Law and the UEC is taking necessary measures to reform the districts/townships within the regions/states so that proportional representation (PR) can be practised for the sake of the smaller ethnic political parties. Then only, there will be better justice.
We have already held three general elections since the introduction of the multiparty democracy system, and out of 330 townships across the nation, elections were held in 325 townships in the 2010 election while the same was held in 323 and 315 townships in the 2015 and 2020 elections respectively. These figures are demonstrating that it has been weak in the representation of the voter people. Additionally, elections must be held without threatening, coercing or mob rule.
In our period, we would hold the elections in all townships, and in so doing, we would do our utmost to ensure safe voting. To ensure holding of the free and fair elections, necessary measures are being taken to ensure secure and smooth transportation across the nation as well as to ensure the rule of law and stability and peace. In this regard, the political parties need to make reforms to suit the changes and also need the government to educate the voter people about the new election system.
Next, the Defence Services Commander-in-Chief went on to talk about security, stability and peace for the election to be held. Afterwards, he justified the taking over the responsibilities of the state. He said that he has done so in accordance with the provisions of the 2008 Constitution. Although the representative elects were told to settle this political issue according to the law, many of them on 5 February 2021 formed CRPH. On 16 April 2021, NUG was formed and PDF was formed on 5 May 2021. They have formed terrorist groups, which later joined KIA, KNU and KNPP to attend the military training courses.
U Win Htein from NLD issued a statement to instigate the people into going against Tatmadaw. Thus, those who harboured misunderstanding of the Tatmadaw were made to set their foot on the wrong path. Though they have the right to settle the problem according to the law, they have chosen the confrontation line, spoiling democracy. This has adversely affected the image of the country. The demonstrations and disturbances abated starting in 2022. Still, with the direct and indirect support from certain EAOs, the PDFs are setting fires, laying mines and killing people. Between 1 February 2021 and 25 January 2023, there have been 4,917 cases of losses and damages of the state-owned and privately owned property, 8,527 cases of bomb explosions, 9,686 cases of assaults, 1,231 cases of arsons, totalling 19,444 cases of terrorism. A total of 5,443 people were killed while 4,577 others were injured. Moreover, 1,021 cases of bomb explosions on motor roads, 66 cases, on railroads, 137 cases, on bridges, 23 cases, on electric towers and 365 cases, on the telecommunications towers. Additionally, there are also those who are killed in the cases of arson committed on the motor roads, the bridges, the electric towers and the telecommunication towers during which a total of 152 people lost their lives. Later, they also launched terrorist attacks on election activities. As stated by the state and regional governments, only 198 townships are 100 per cent peaceful while 65 townships need effective providing of security. Certain EAOs are found to be behind terrorist activities. In truth, the PDFs are different from the EAOs.
The list of voters is of primary importance in elections and the exact population is required to be correct and accurate. It was ten years ago, that is, in 2014, that the last census was taken in our country. Therefore, it is necessary to take a new census.
In the current situation, the number of citizens who left the country is not known yet and, due to the terrorist attacks, it is still difficult to calculate the exact population. The census is to be taken every ten years and so it is the process to go through without fail.
Only when peace and stability prevail all over the country and there is a situation where everything is normal, will it be possible for general elections to be held in all parts of the country. Therefore, the government is working towards smooth and secure transport, the rule of law, peace and stability which are the sine qua non for general elections. Casting the vote or not in the election is the wish of each and every citizen but the government will have to take every possible measure for them to cast votes and make sure that they do not lose their democratic right by trying to be able to hold elections in all parts of the country.
In any age and under any government, Tatmadaw has always regarded the people as their parents and itself as the guardian and protector of the interests of the people.
More work and time are required for the prevalence of peace and stability and the holding of the elections and therefore we would like to request the entire mass of people and respective organizations to cooperate with the government.
Then, U T Khun Myat, the Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw, thanked the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services for his explanation about future work programmes to be carried out by the State Administration Council and suggested seeking the advice of the Constitutional Tribunal.
After that, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Vice-Senior General Soe Win said that he would like to discuss the holding of free and fair elections. He said that it was because of vote fraud that the SAC had to take the responsibilities of the State, that measures have to be taken to prevent such mistakes and malpractices from happening again, that the Prime Minister has assigned him duties for this, that terrorists are trying to disturb and hamper the process of taking the correct census and correct list of voters by shooting and killing the public employees and volunteers, that it is necessary to terminate the terrorist acts that started in regions and states in 2021, that the government has signed peace agreements with ten ethnic armed organizations and that some more time is needed to create a situation for people to be able to vote freely.
The Union Minister for Defence said that the government has been trying to solve the problems of terrorists and Covid-19 and has been able to enhance the economic growth of the country during the last two years, but that there are still destructive elements trying to bring ruin to the country and upset the government’s attempt to hold a free and fair election. Therefore, he said he was for the fact that some more time is still needed to carry out the things to be done.
The Union Minister for Home Affairs said that Tatmadaw has had to take the responsibilities of the State because of the problems resulting from the vote fraud, that terrorists are doing repeated acts of destruction and killing to prevent the elections from taking place although there are no longer demonstrations. He added that some more time is needed for the prevalence of peace and stability, rule of law and the gradual elimination of terrorist groups.
The Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, in his turn, said that holding a free and fair election is a very important requirement for the country, that it was found that there were malpractices in the last elections and that he was in favour of the fact that the State Administration Council has to take some time to work for peace and stability.
The Union Minister for Border Affairs, on his part, said that such terrorist groups as CRPH and NUG and their subordinate PDFs are committing various kinds of destructive acts with the intention of derailing the elections, that more time is required for the prevalence of peace and stability and the successful holding of the elections and that the length of time required should be determined in accordance with the Constitution.
Regarding the presentations by responsible personnel, the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services said that he knew that the multiparty democracy is the only path the country has to walk and so he was determined to hold the elections without fail. He continued to say that the 2008 Constitution was approved by 92.48 per cent of the people and Tatmadaw has the duty to safeguard the Constitution, implement the multiparty democracy and hold the elections in every part of the country although EAOs and PDFs are trying to abort the elections. He went on to say that all EAOs that have had peace talks with SAC accept the Union system based on democracy and federalism, and that democracy will prevail all over the country only when indigenous nationals have discussed the points included in the NCA. And political parties have to register in accordance with the political parties registration law and have enough time to wage election campaigns. For all this, he said, enough time should be given.
Finally, he emphasized that measures would have to be taken for rural people, who are 70 per cent of the entire population, to be able to cast the vote and so it is found that national peace and stability are essential. Therefore, he said he supposed that the extension of six months was required and he would report the general situation of the country after six months.
Then, the special invitee Union Minister for Legal Affairs and Attorney-General of the Union Dr Thida Oo discussed that Sections 410 to 432 of the 2008 Constitution are the provisions for the State of Emergency. Section 425 states the permit for two extensions of the prescribed duration for a term of six months for each extension normally. The word “normally” mentioned in the Constitution highlights that it should consider the unusual or exceptional situation. One should look at the Letter of Law and Spirit of Law when studying a certain law and it needs to look at the Spirit of Law.
Then, the Pro Tem President U Myint Swe said the Senior General widely explained the implementations as per the five-point roadmap, nine objectives, two national tasks and two political tasks. He also appreciated the efforts of the government and Tatmadaw upholding the “Three Main National Causes” despite the internal and external destructive elements and challenges.
He added that Tatmadaw is a systematic Institution for the country and the SAC took the State’s responsibilities due to the voting fraud of the 2020 election of the former government. Tatmadaw urged the election-related organizations and persons to resolve and negotiate many times not to contrary to the democratic pathway of the country.
Today, the State Administration Council Government organized by Tatmadaw after the declaration of the State of Emergency across the nation carried out the duties in the term set by the Constitution.
During that period, it should carry out the measures to achieve the exact population as the correct basic voter lists play a key role in the coming election and the Senior General invited the leaders of ethnic armed groups to hold talks in person. It can be also seen that the government and Tatmadaw always follow the facts stated in NCA. But it is still far from the stability of the state as some EAOs launched terrorist attacks in the country by cooperating with the insurgents. Therefore, Tatmadaw focuses on the stability of the State, community peace and tranquillity and the country’s return to a better situation than before. But the internal and external opposition organizations accelerate their attempts to disrupt the State stability and election processes.
It can be also seen that all the national brethren across the nation participate in the measures for holding the free and fair multi-party democratic election not to miss the democratic rights and the emergence of the PR system. It should make efforts not to be lower than the constituencies of the 2010 general election. The government should create a certain situation to ensure transport, the rule of law and stability.
He continued that the duration of the State of Emergency is extended to further six months starting 1 February 2023 based on the decisions made by the members of the National Defence and Security Council and under Section 425 of the Constitution and the State responsibilities are also assigned to the SAC Chairman Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services again under Section 419 of the Constitution. The National Defence and Security Council will also release the statement.
He then called on the participants to participate in the holding of elections across the nation to ensure the free expression of individual voters urging Tatmadaw to protect the 2008 Constitution for the country and ethnic people and concluded the meeting 1/2023. — MNA