New Delhi – Villagers from two villages south of Myingyan city launched an aggressive campaign against the referendum on the junta's draft constitution through a novel move, yesterday. They drew X on their fences, clearly expressing their opposition. This despite, promises of free distribution of edible oil and rice and exemption from taxes. The campaign has left local authorities nervous. The township is the birthplace of some SPDC Ministers.
Almost all the houses in Lingyi and Dhakyun villages on the bank of the Irrawaddy River, south of Myingyan city, Mandalay Division, had X on their fences. "The villagers pasted the walls and fences of their houses and monasteries with papers with X on them," a member of the referendum monitoring organization said. "As soon as the news reached the township authority policemen were rushed to these villages, however no incident was reported," he said.
The local referendum monitoring organization has 300 members and is comprised of former politicians and activists. They are recording irregularities in the campaign conducted by local authorities and will monitor the referendum process. These records will then be published.
Ministers in the township have been conducting campaigns through the double processes of bribery and intimidation. Myingyan based 'Myanmarese Company' distributed rice and cooking oil. "The owner of Myanmarese Company, U Tin Win, used loud speakers to tell people he has distributed one bag of rice and one can of cooking oil to the people of Yegnanaing village, Taungtha Township for voting for the referendum. He guaranteed free distribution to villagers here too if they vote in favor," the member of referendum monitoring organization added.
Local municipal officials from Myingyan, visiting the No. 11 Ward in the Nwagutan suburb of Myingyan said, locals need not pay property and house taxes for this financial year if they vote in favor. They threatened those who might oppose with eviction saying they would be declared squatters if they cast a NO vote.
Matters reached a head when a seller of illegal lottery tickets, Ko Win Shwe, threatened to inform the authority of those who vote against the referendum. Residents' simply cut off the free water connection provided by his kind neighbour.