EC and immigration authorities play blame game

The status of white card holders' right to vote in the forthcoming 2015 general election is still uncertain. The Election Commission (EC) and Immigration Department are playing the blame game by denying their responsibility on the issue.

The white cards are provisional identity cards issued by the Immigration Department to citizens whose identity and nationalities could not be ascertained.

Khin Yee, Minister of the Ministry of Immigration and Population said, The Immigration Department is responsible for granting citizenship. Setting rules on the  right to franchise is not our job. We cannot decide who can and cannot cast votes, to Mizzima's query on September 15 at a press conference held in the Yangon Region Legislative Assembly building.

Similarly, the Union Election Commission Chairman Tin Aye, at a press conference held at Inya Lake hotel on September 14, told reporters that the EC had no responsibility on the issue.

The inquiry should be made to the Immigration department. Only they can verify citizenship and party membership. If they approve the citizenship of these people, we cannot deny citizens their right to vote. We must seek confirmation from the Immigration Department on these cases. If the Immigration department confirms their citizenship, we must follow their decision, said Chairman Tin Aye.

When Mizzima asked Immigration Minister Khin Yee to respond to the EC Chairman, he replied, We issued white cards to those whose citizenships were uncertain. A decision on whether white card holders should be granted the right to vote or not, must be made by the EC. I think what he said meant was the Immigration Department's only concern was granting citizenship.

Upper House MP Dr. Aye Maung, from Rakhine moved a motion at the Parliament during its sixth session to enact a law regarding franchise right of white card holders and the house accepted the motion for deliberations.

Khin Saw Wei, Rakhine MP from Rethetaung constituency said that the motion would be deliberated upon during the seventh session.

Such law should be enacted in our country. In Rakhine state, many white cards were issued so that people can cast votes in the general election. In fact, they should have not done that.  It is not practiced internationally, she said.

During the 2010 general election, the military regime issued white cards to non-citizens and granted them the right to vote. The controversial move was criticized by politicians, opposition and the media at that time.

EC Chairman Tin Aye admitted to the journalists at the press conference held on September 14 that mistakes were made in the previous general election.

He also pledged that there would be no mistakes in the upcoming general election in 2015.

Cr. Written by Nan Hnin Lwin Pwint | Zin Linn
Report by Natalie P.Srisutcharit, EBC News