Campaigning for the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Shan State South’s gemland of Monghsu a few days before the polls, a junta official reportedly warned voters against casting votes for its rival party, the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP).
“If you are unwise enough to vote for the white tigers (popular name for the SNDP),” U Kyaw Tin Swe, Monghsu Township USDP secretary, was quoted as telling people of Na Zam, “Shan State will become a Chinese vassal. I therefore urge those of you who don’t wish to become Chinese slaves to vote for the USDP.”
This was the first time junta authorities have publicly alluded to China. Previously, they had invariably cautioned people against “fiendish plot” to take over Shan State by Thailand. Thais and Shans are historic, linguistic and ethnic cousins.
China is considered as the closest ally of junta-ruled Burma and endlessly referred to as Pauk Hpaw (Sibling). Beijing’s state-run Global Times had lauded the elections as “a step forward”.
China is also said to be maintaining friendly relations with armed movements struggling against Naypyitaw for self-rule, such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Shan State Army (SSA) ‘North’ and ‘South’, United Wa State Army (UWSA) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA).
Among them, the SSA South had declared as far back as 26 May that it would only stick to the 1990 poll results and would not support any parties set up to contest the 7 November elections.
USDP candidates had also attacked the SNDP as being supported by illegal armed groups, a charge that the SNDP had categorically denied.
Also according to a report from a reliable source, Prime Minister Thein Sein, leader of the USDP, had told members in Shan State North last month that the SNDP, in the event that the USDP were defeated in the polls, would be accused of working hand in glove with unlawful associations.
The SNDP has confirmed that it has so far secured 57 out of 156 seats that it is contesting.
Kyaw Tin Swe, USDP, beat his SNDP opponent Sai Lao Pangfa: 8,576 votes to 7,567 votes, “due to bundles of advance votes,” reports Kawli, ad hoe blog set up by a Shan group.