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Only 50% of population on voter lists in Chin State

Chin community (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

The State Election Commission in Hakha has put the blame for low voter registration in Chin State on local media agencies and community-based organisations (CBOs).

Lynn Kyaw, a leading member of the Chin State Election Commission, said that they had tried to get accurate data on the number of eligible voters but people were not interested because of little support from local media agencies and CBOs.

He said, “The commission did everything from the start to the end. As we didn’t get help from the media and local communities, there wasn’t enough awareness and interest among the public. However, we will keep on trying to get correct data of the voters.”

According to the official statistics posted on 8 June, there are only 262,621 eligible voters registered in Burma’s western state.

To this, Lynn Kyaw said that it was not a final list and that there had to be more voters than the current number.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to the Chinland Guardian, a Chin news editor in Hakha said that they were not responsible for the figures and that the commission had to cooperate more with communities, civil society and media agencies.

Meanwhile, Hakha residents complain that it is very difficult for them to check their names on the list of eligible voters posted in the town.

Salai Thang, from Keisih Ward, said that the Hakha Township list was displayed but it was not properly categorised and that he was not able to find his name.

“I will have to spend hours looking for my name on the list. I don’t think people will get interested in the list as it is not well organised. The Election Commission should have made it easy for people like us to read,” he added.

Salai Lian, a village leader in Thantlang Township, said that many villagers would not be able to read their names as they are written in Burmese, adding: “The majority of people in our village, for instance, can only read Chin, not Burmese. They are not to be blamed. Why don’t the responsible authorities also write in Chin?”

According to the census in March 2014, the population of Chin State is 478,801, with 79 percent living in rural areas. It also shows that the number of those under the age of 15 is 191,290.

 

This article first appeared in Chinland Guardian on 18 June 2015.