_ photos by Lin Let Kyal Sin
A very extremely long queue of multiple thousands of eager voters, the expatriates from Burma in Singapore who wanted to vote NO on Burma’s pro-military constitution, waited on 27.04.08 patiently under Singapore’s glaring sun for many hours to get a chance to go inside Burmese embassy and vote.
But embassy staffs worked awfully slowly, and they forced voters who wore “Vote NO” T-shirts to remove the shirts. And they even stopped working totally between 1pm and 4pm; and then, soon after resuming the vote collection, one embassy official came out to declare that there was no more vote-tickets and that some more tickets will be sent from Naypyidaw (Burma’s new administrative capital) in a few days time.
It was estimated that out of those thousands upon thousands of expat-voters, only a lucky few hundreds got a chance to vote on that day.
Voters were asking why Burmese embassy had only a few hundred vote-tickets prepared despite at least a hundred thousand expatriate Burmese are working and living in Singapore. Their questions apparently fell on daft ears.
The disheartened voters, who did not get a chance to vote, marched peacefully for a while in downtown Singapore before going home.
Later on, the embassy announced that expat-voting deadline would be postponed with more voting to be allowed on May-day holiday (1st of May is May-day/Labour-day in Burmese calendar).
But damage has already been done with overwhelming majority of expat-voters already lost faith in the way the embassy has been handling the voting process, amidst accusations that Burmese embassies all around the world are allowing only a few trusted pro-regime voters to vote YEs as a show case and then authorities themselves filling YES in the ballots of the rest of the voters using the expat-voters’ IDs (names, DOBs, passport numbers …) held in records of the embassies’ databases.