Aung Kaung Zaw | DMG
22 September, Manaung
Bowing to local objections, the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Arakan State has taken down one of its campaign signboards in Thitpon village, Manaung Township.
The ruling party’s election signage was removed after some locals protested against it being erected in Thitpon village on September 20, according to U Than Wai, chairperson of the township NLD.
“We put up the campaign signboard on September 20 with the participation of the NLD’s village members. We had already informed the township administrator,” he told DMG.
“The campaign signboard was erected on a vacant land plot owned by the villagers. At that time, a group of locals including the village administrator told us not to erect the campaign signboard. We removed the campaign signboard for fear of causing a commotion.”
The NLD reportedly erected campaign signboards in more than 20 Manaung Township villages last week with the permission of the township election subcommission.
Political signage is taking on uniquely 2020 importance in the election campaigns of political parties ahead of this year’s November 8 general election, with in-person campaign activities like rallies prohibited under current COVID-19 restrictions.
U Than Wai said he was saddened by the signboard incident in Thitpon village, calling it an “obstruction” of the party’s campaign efforts.
The village administrator, U Ko Ko Win aka U Win Myint Thein, said the local opposition was not about the sign itself but rather the location where it was erected. The space is used for car parking and NLD members were told to relocate the signboard, he said.
“We never obstructed those [NLD members]. The villagers said if they put up the campaign signboard at the parking lot, it would not be convenient for them to drive. So I told the NLD members to erect the campaign signboard at another location,” he explained.
“I told them that if they had a suitable place in the village-tract, they could erect the campaign signboard anywhere. Other parties also erected campaign signboards at convenient places in the village.”
NLD members intent on riding motorbikes through downtown Manaung with party flags affixed were barred from doing so on September 8, the first day of the general election’s official campaign period.
Election signboards of the ruling NLD in Arakan State’s Taungup and Myebon townships were destroyed over the first two weeks of the campaign period.