Wednesday, November 4, 2015

USDP Splashes Out on Flashy Rally in Arakan State

RANGOON — The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) splashed out on a raucous rally in western Burma’s Arakan State on Monday, with just days left to spend campaign cash before a Nov. 8 general election.
Locals in Kyaukphyu told The Irrawaddy that the rally’s estimated thousands of attendees were given cash-in-hand to party with parliamentary hopefuls, which entailed musical performances complete with scantily clad models.
A USDP candidate for the state parliament, Thaung Win, said some 7,000 people were invited from more than 30 villages, but denied that they were offered money to attend. The candidate explained that villagers were provided with transportation and a small stipend for their lunch.
“We can’t cook for them, so we provided cash, accommodation and vehicles,” Thaung Win said. “We only paid them 1,000 kyat [US$0.78] for lunch.”
Some participants claimed, however, that party members were given between 3,000 and 5,000 kyat, while unaffiliated observers received 1,000. Locals estimated that about 2,000 people showed up for Monday’s event.
Administrators in Malakyun, Kalabar and Gone Chwin all said that roughly 50 to 60 people from each village accepted the transport and lunch fee to attend the rally, commensurate with the overall attendance estimate if 30 villages had in fact been invited.
One of five models hired to entertain crowds at a USDP rally in Arakan State on Nov. 2, 2015.

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