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Myanmar SPDC should espouse the Political maturity of Nepalese election

Myanmar SPDC should espouse the

Political maturity of Nepalese election

 

Excerpts from Syed Jaymal Zahiid’s article in Malaysiakioni

 

Nepal gave birth to the soul progenitor of one of the world’s most followed religions, Siddharta Gautama and Buddhism, ever conceive this poorest country by material standards to be so rich in its political culture.

Offered a position among five other Malaysian international observers with a regional Thailand-based poll watchdog Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel), I had the opportunity to surpass the stigmas and witness directly the mature state of political culture practiced by Nepalese in their historic constituency assembly (CA) elections.

War is over now. A comprehensive peaceful agreement was reached between the Maoists (now known as the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists or CPN-M) and the two major parties, Nepali Congress (Liberal democrats who headed the interim seven-party alliance government) and the Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist-Leninists (CPN-UML) which is actually, ideologically a social democratic group.

 

It was a sight that reflected political maturity. Ideologies from the far left to the far right was seen free to contest in an equal playing field facilitated by the Nepalese Election Commission.

The Nepal EC’s integrity is unquestionable. Unlike Malaysia where its electoral regulators have suffered a major crisis of public confidence as it is pervasively seen as pro-status quo, the Nepal EC seems impeccable.

Observers from international groups like the European Union, Carter Center of United States of America, the British government and Anfrel all agreed that the Nepal EC functions with integrity. The Nepalese EC was professional and impartial when it comes to executing their tasks.

My arrival in the Nuwakot district, north of the city’s capital Kathmandu, was greeted with the coincidental encounter with thousands of supporters from the Maoists party rallying on the town’s main streets. Security personnel were present but they were there to protect the rally participants instead of cracking their skulls with batons.

The head security of the district known as the Chief District Officer (CDO) when met informed observers that mass rallies are permitted. A permit is not necessary for parties to organise mass rallies. They must however inform the CDO prior to the event and the CDO will consult with the EC officers on how to facilitate the wishes of the pleading party.

By this, observers witnessed a well coordinated regulation pertaining to campaigning to ensure that all parties receive fair and adequate space and time to express ideas. By this it meant that potential violent clashes between different party supporters had been constructively avoided without obstructing them from exercising their fundamental civil liberties.

Another interesting thing to note about Nepal in this particular elections is the practice of the parallel or known to them as the mixed election system. One is the ‘First-Past-The-Post’ system (the one practiced in Malaysia) and the proportional representative (PR) system.

 

PR system will ensure candidates contesting have support from all sectors (women, marginalised groups, youth and the elderly) of society. This is to guarantee that no sectors of the Nepalese society are left out from representation and that their voices and concerns will be mediated when the PR elected candidates convene to draft the country’s constitution.

As far as the electoral process is concerned, the measures introduced by the Nepalese EC mirrored an earnest effort to obviate manipulation. The usage of indelible ink faced no objections from all the parties involved.

Similarly in Malaysia, party agents were allowed to object to any suspicion of foul play. But Malaysia is rife with protests with regards to electoral rolls and registration problems every time it holds a general election. None of such irregularities were encountered in the polling centres throughout Nepal.

Nepal however suffers from tremendous backwardness in the technological sphere. This rendered voter registration process a total mess. Various instances of eligible voters not being able to vote due to the problems arising from the lack of technological resources.

The election materials (ballot boxes, indelible inks, etc) arrived to the rural areas by foot. People walked for miles and hours through cruel landscapes to the polling centres and did not complain about the government ban on public and private transportation (to prevent voters from other areas to vote outside their designated polling locations).

Many would, given the geographical conditions of Nepal, suggest postal voting but it was not accepted by the EC as they felt that the postal voting system can be easily manipulated in favour of the stakeholders.

Material poverty, political cultural wealth

The presence and acceptance of international election observers by the Nepalese government, political parties including the Maoists proved the country’s political will and seriousness to implement a free and fair elections.

Red flags of the Maoists numbering in thousands waved and hung alongside right-wing parties indicated a certain level of political maturity. It indicated the freedom enjoyed by the people to democratically choose any ideology, be it radical or conservative, without suppression or discrimination.

Observers, western or eastern alike, shared the absence of ethnic antagonism in their observation reports. Despite the high illiteracy rate of Nepal (40 percent) and the extremely low tertiary education graduates percentage (0.7 percent), racism was virtually not in the Nepalese vocabulary. Indo-Aryans alongside their Paharis to other smaller groups like Tharus and Dhimals had all voted according to ideologies brought by the political parties and not ethnicity.

Nepal is no Japan nor South Korea or even near Malaysia when it comes to material prosperity. But this country is as rich in its political culture as any developed democracy in commitment to implement an election system that guarantees the voice of the Nepalese people are properly represented in the construction of a new Nepal.

Can we say the same about Myanmar? (Note: I, SOA, changed the name of the country ) I leave it to the readers to decide. As for me, I am writing from Nepal with admiration and hope.