Tatmadaw Information Team holds press conference

Nay Pyi Taw January 26

Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun of the Tatmadaw Information Team met the media at Defence Services Museum in Nay Pyi Taw this afternoon and held a press conference on the reason behind the Tatmadaw’s issuance of statements on the findings in scrutinizing the voter lists, the voting forms being scrutinized and legal matters. He also answered the questions raised by the media.

Before the press meet, officials of the Directorate of the Medical Services of the Office of the Commander-in- Chief (Army) measured the body temperatures of the attendees and held the press conference in accord with the social distancing rules.

In his clarifications, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said the Tatmadaw had to assume the State duties in 1988 because of the country’s situation. Soon after assuming the State duties, the State Law and Order Restoration Council or the Tatmadaw government issued the Notification No 1/88. The notification included four immediate tasks and three future work programmes.

The immediate tasks were: (1) therule of law and regional peace; (2)smooth and secure transport; (3)food, clothing and shelter of the people; and (4) the holding of the multi-party democracy election after the implementation of the abovementioned three tasks. The main thing is that although the Tatmadaw took over the State duties to restore the all-round deteriorating situation of the country, it had striven for the establishment of the multi-party democracy, aspired by the people. The notification permitted the existence of the election commission and the formation of political parties. It also requested the participation of the entire people.

As a durable State constitution was a must for the long-term benefit of the future State in adopting and implementing multi-party democracy, the State Peace and Development Council convened the National Convention in 1993. The persons who had a lot of experience in multiple fields including politics, administration, economics, social affairs and legal affairs and representatives of the nationalities of the various areas of the country took part in it. Despite the many difficulties and disturbances, the National Convention could be continued in 2004 in accord with the seven-point Road Map laid down in 2003. The National Convention could lay down the basic principles and detailed basic principles for the emergence of a State constitution. The National Convention successfully concluded on 3 September 2007. The Constitution was ratified at the national referendum held on 29 May 2008.

The Tatmadaw government simultaneously adopted work programmes for democracy. For example, the Tatmadaw member chairmen of the basic administration bodies—state and division, district and township administrative bodies— were substituted with the officers of the General Administration Department. The step-by-step reformation of the bureaucracy machinery was carried out under the administration of the Tatmadaw government. It patiently set up institutions that were important for democracy. The 2010 multi-party general election was held in accord with the Constitution, and the State power was successfully transferred to the elected government. Preparations were made for many years and the people’s desire was seriously taken into account in setting up the multi-party democracy. Hence, all the people and organizations must understand the multi-party democracy. The Tatmadaw has been maintaining the path to multi-party democracy, which is the public aspiration, to steadfastly walk on it.

It will continue to shoulder this duty. Necessary laws were amended for NLD to be able to take part in the by-election in 2012. (For example, the law amending the Political Parties Registration Law was amended on 4 November 2011.) Our country has been implementing the multi-party democratic system in two successive governments for a decade. Comparison on politics, economy, social, security, stability and progress between the two governments could be seen.

Democracy can be assumed as a system as well as a procedure or an ethic which can achieve success only when every people and organization abide by such system. It is a political system which can secure victory if all participate in implementation of the process. With regard to the first basic need, it is necessary to avoid the acts of derailing from the democratization process against democracy. Any persons, organizations and services must abide by the Constitution and provisions. Malpractice over the law will deform the democracy. In his New Year message for 2020, Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said the year 2020 is of importance for the country; and as it is the year to hold the election, it is important for strengthening of multi-party democratic system. At the conclusion of the 18th Intake of the National Defence College held on 5 March 2020, the Commanderin- Chief of Defence Services said: “According to the current situation of the State, it is necessary to successfully hold the free and fair general election so as to strengthen the multi-party democracy the people chose. If the election is not free and fair, difficulties will appear in marching to the future democratization process. As stability of the State and rule of law is essential for completion of the election in a fair manner, the Tatmadaw needs to provide necessary assistance for it.” At the ceremony to mark the third anniversary of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement-NCA held on 15 October 2018, the Senior General said that “no one is more important than ethnic cause and national interests, and he wished to have innocent and fair politics only.” At the fourth session of the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong, the Senior General also said that the word “no one is above the law” is a fundamental fact for existence of the democracy foundation to realize the democracy. Likewise, it is necessary to accept the concept that no person and organization is above the national interests in nation-building and national-building tasks.

Before holding the election, speeches on holding the free and fair election which is basic for multi-party democracy and issuance of announcements and statements were performed about 12 times. Clarifications at the Tatmadaw press conferences and interviews with media frequently emphasized needs of holding the free and fair election. Everybody knows it cannot assess only the election day for process of “the election whether it was free and fair or not”. It is necessary to assess and review things whether the process is free and fair without doubts during the canvassing period before the election, the election day and the post-election period. If necessary, it needs to review whether advance situation before the canvassing period were of fair play for all political parties or not. UEC urged the Tatmadaw to keep polling stations outside the military units. Focusing on holding the free and fair election, the Tatmadaw kept all polling stations outside the military units and ordered Tatmadaw members and family members to independently cast votes outside the military units. It can be learned from officials of the political parties who officially said that they faced difficulties in TV and radio broadcasts about their election manifestos during the election campaign period such as censorship. There was unfairness over freedom of campaigning and mobilizing on the pretext of COVID.

In the previous press conference, evidence had been shown together with video files that advance voting saw such errors as envelopes with inferior quality and insecure, porous envelopes for ballot papers. On 2 November before the election, the Tatmadaw issued “a statement on the situation of the pre-2020 multi-party democracy general election”.

The statement said the election commission got an average time span of 1,684 days (four years, seven months and nine days), and it is found that the time is enough for holding a free and fair election and the preparations for ensuring order at the election. The rules, procedures and directives relating to elections must be issued in accord with the Constitution and the relevant laws. Despite Section 399 of the Constitution, according to official announcements of political parties and their statements to the media and the media news reports, there was widespread violations of the laws and procedures of the pre-voting process. Statements were issued that seem to go beyond the existing laws on the pretext of not losing voting rights. As the election image could be harmed, the election commission and the President must take responsibility and accountability for ensuring a free and fair election, the statement said. However, after that statement also, controversies still emerged on a daily basis.

The Tatmadaw, as part of the people and the State, has been standing by the State and the people. It is working and will continue to work to prevent the country’s multi-party democratic system aspired by the people from swaying. Speaking to senior officer instructors and senior officer trainees from Command and General Staff College in Kalaw Station via video conferencing on 8 January 2021, the Commanderin- Chief of Defence Services said: “Since before the election, I had said many times that there should be a free and fair election. In conducting assessment after the election, as unfair and dishonest situations were found, criticism and indicating something are being undertaken. It is unsuitable for carrying out the tasks by applying the laws as they wish. Mistakes were pointed out because such mistakes may much tarnish prestige of the election of the country.” The Tatmadaw issued 20 statements from 23 December 2020 to 16 January 2021 pointing out the repeated voter lists and those that could lead to electoral fraud after assessing the lists in 314 townships across the country. They were the lists of individual townships that could have led to electoral malpractices and there were 7,623,725 voters. The repeated voter lists in the townships of each and every region and state were finally announced on 25 January. There were 1,070,100 voters in total and over 8 million on the lists could have caused vote rigging.

In clarifying voter list assessments with PowerPoint presentation along with documents and visual aid, they explained that PDF files had to be collected to assess voter list form (1) from respective polling booths. Those PDF files had to be transformed into Excel ones and prepared in six stages with the use of programme/software. In the first stage, all Excel files had to be collected to check NRCs. In the second stage, those voters without NRCs and those whose NRC numbers are the same had to be separated. In the third stage, holders of the same NRC numbers were identified. For example, holders of the same NRC numbers listed in the voter list for twice or thrice were identified. In the fourth stage, holders of the same NRC numbers listed on the voter list for more than thrice were identified. In the fifth stage, holders of the same NRC numbers with all different personal information were identified. In the sixth stage, holders of the same NRC numbers listed on the voter list for more than twice were identified. Then, holders of the same NRC cards with the same name, the same age and the same parents’ names (all facts the same ), holders of the same NRC cards with the same name, the same age, the same father’s name (different mother’s name), holders of the same NRC cards with the same name, the same age and the same mother’s name (different father’s name), holders of the same NRC cards with the same age and the same parents’ names (different name), holders of the same NRC cards with the same parents’ names and the same name (different age), holders of the same NRC cards with the same name and the same father’s name (different mother’s name and different age), holders of the same NRC cards with the same name, the same mother’s name (different father’s name and different age), holders of the same NRC cards with the same parents’ names (different name and different age), holders of the same NRC cards with the same name (different age and different parents’ names), holders of the same NRC cards with the same father’s name (different name, different age and different mother’s name), holders of the same NRC cards with the same mother’s name (different name, different age and different father’s name), holders of the same NRC cards (all other facts were different), holders of the same NRC cards listed three times on the voter list, holders of the same NRC cards listed four times on the voter list and people listed on the voter list without holding NRC cards were identified and the number of repeated lists of voters that may cause vote rigging in Form (1) in Pyinmana Township was identified through the six stages, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said and explained the total number of the repeated lists of voters in states and regions by applying powerpoint. Detail lists and repeated lists for respective townships were collected in the book form, totalling 1,341 books and reporters can study them in detail after the press conference and raise queries if necessary. The lists were scrutinized with the use of computerized systems and reporters can enter their names and NRC numbers into the system. The Tatmadaw is performing its duties in accordance with Sub-Section (e) of Section (20) of the constitution for Non-disintegration of the Union, Non-disintegration of national solidarity and the perpetuation of the sovereignty and in accordance with Section (f) to safeguard the constitution based on its desire to safeguard democracy and hold free and fair election. The Tatmadaw will safeguard the constitution from the activities of organizations that fail to observe the constitution and external and internal organizations that are desirous of causing damage to the constitution. As the Tatmadaw is a part of the State and the people, it will perform its duties by observing the constitution loyally. It is necessary not only for the Tatmadaw but also for elected Hluttaw representatives to safeguard the constitution, to respect the laws of the country, to uphold Our Three Main National Causes and to honestly perform their duties in accordance with their oaths stated in the Schedule (4) of the 2008 Constitution. Therefore, it is necessary for relevant authorities and organizations to prove that the last election was a free and fair one transparently.

Afterward, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun responded to questions raised by media persons.

Reporters from more than 40 local and foreign news agencies, dailies, journals and local TV broadcasting stations and local-based foreign news agencies attended the press conference and the complete question and answer session will be released later.