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Begging for donations banned at all markets in Rangoon

Rangoon (Mizzima) – Authorities in Rangoon have banned all kinds of fund-raising in markets citywide, after groups last week ran into a legal dilemma while attempting to fill their campaign chests, which pit municipal law against national electoral laws. The ban however will likely have a much greater impact on those with a lot more at stake than aspiring to public office – monks, nuns and beggars. 

The Rangoon City Development Committee, which oversees the city’s markets, has since last week been putting the ban on asking the public for donations into effect with signboards and announcements.

tax-marketAccording to a city official, the body banned collection of donations to all individuals and organisations after the 88 Generation Students and Youths (Union of Myanmar) and Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics (UMFNP) parties canvassed market-goers for funds at Yadana Theingi market North Okkalapa Township.

The East District municipal committee was set to file cases on Friday against 10 central committee members from the parties for collecting party funds to contest in the upcoming general elections, a party member was reported on Friday as saying. The committee had reportedly summoned the party officials to its offices on Saturday.

The city official said: “According to ‘Rule 33’, those who wish to ask for donations at markets must [now] ask for permission from market officials first”, he said.

But all the market vendors Mizzima interviewed said unanimously that they were unaware that this was in force.

“We don’t know at all that it is illegal for begging donations in the market without permission”, said an art dealer, who has been trading in the renowned Bogyoke market for more than 30 years.

Such a ban will severely affect people from religious orders and beggars, all of whom survive on donations at city markets.

“Most of the people who ask for donations at our markets are nuns. They usually visit our market on holy days and the night before,” a clothes vendor Htee Dan market in Kymyindine Township, said. “These nuns will be caused a great deal of trouble by this ban order.”

“The ban on begging for donations announcement has been posted on the notice board … since five days ago,” another vendor said.  

A senior nun from Shwe Nyaung Bin nunnery in Insein Township said it was usual practice for about 30 nuns from the order to visit Kyimyidine, Ahlone, Kamayut and Mayangone townships to collect donations of rice on each eve of religious days.

“We usually give our donation to monks and nuns. From a religious viewpoint, such ban should not be imposed”, a Htee Dan market grocer said.

The civic body is planning to prosecute Khin Maung Win and four other members of the 88 Generation Students and Youths and other five from the UMFNP including central committee member Aung Min Thu for collecting donations at the market for their party funds. These parties will contest in the upcoming general elections.

The ban order follows word on Friday that the East District committee had summoned the party members.

“We have never heard such news before … There are many beggars, monks and nuns who ask for offerings in Rangoon”, an editor of a weekly journal in Rangoon said.

A pro-opposition advocate in Rangoon said the prosecution of the two parties established by Aye Lwin and his younger brother Ye Tun, who were both believed to have a good rapport with Burma’s ruling military junta, might be a pre-emptive strike at all parties intending to follow suit in raising party funds, thus further depriving power to any rivals of its Union Solidarity and Development Party.  

“This may be an action designed to hamper the success of other political parties. The electoral law permits the giving of donations to political parties and parties can ask for such donations”, he said.

Section 15(a) of Political Parties Registration Law, launched by the junta in March to govern upcoming polls this year, outlines these fund-raising rights.

More than 160 markets are owned by the city within its municipal boundaries. The current city chairman is the retired brigadier general, Aung Thein Linn, believed to be running as a USDP party candidate in South Okkalapa constituency.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 13 July 2010 01:44 )  

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