KNG interviewed Kachin State People’s Party (KSPP) Vice-Chair Duwa Gumgrawng Awng Hkam about how his party is getting ready for the 2020 general election. In particular, the party’s candidate selection process for the townships in Kachin State that it will contest.
How is KSPP preparing for the 2020 election?
We formed an electoral candidate selection committee and informed the township committee. After, the township committee will report the list of nominees to the party headquarters.
How much will the community participate with the electoral candidate selection committee?
At the township level, women, youth, and regular citizens working with NGOs and cultural organizations will be part of the committee and take part in the candidate selection process. After the central committee will make the final selection.
How will KSPP select candidates to represent different townships?
There are two steps to the selection process. First, township representatives nominate a candidate from their respective township. KSPP’s party headquarters will make the final choices after consulting with the township committee. Priority will be given to women and youth. Since our party was formed from several parties that merged, we have to select representatives from each of these parties. We’ll also be inclusive of the different ethnic groups living in Kachin State. Our electoral candidates will represent all communities.
What percentage of electoral candidates will be women and youth?
We haven’t determined a percentage, per say. There’s a lot of talk of ensuring at least 30 percent women’s participation. For our party, I am not sure that women and youth candidates will be 30 percent or less than that. It will depend on their abilities and their potential.
Will KSPP contest constituencies in Shan State?
KSPP will only run in constituencies in Kachin State. We will field 68 electoral candidates for 18 townships in Kachin State. Other Kachin political parties will contest Shan State.
What qualifications do candidates require?
They need to complete the candidate selection form. The township committee will examine it. Special attention will be given to their organizational skills, financial strength, education, ethnic background, political experience, etc.
How much of the candidate selection process is complete?
Actually, we just started it. And I think we received a nomination list from only one or two townships. We will continue working on it, but I doubt that it will be finished this June. More likely, it will be completed in July.
Some have criticized KSPP for not involving the community. What would you say to this?
Our party has township committees, a central committee, a central executive committee and youth and women’s departments. Our township committees work within the community. We can’t have a public meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, our party has limited financial resources and is therefore unable to organize public meetings like the larger parties such as NLD.
How much organizing is being done online?
We have a media team and an official KSPP Facebook group. And the youth department has its own Facebook group. Some of our township committees are using Facebook. We’re posting audio and video of our activities and our party’s policies on Facebook. We maintain close contact with several media outlets. These days, the media plays an essential role. Online engagement is also very important, and we will continue focusing on maintaining our party’s online presence.
Is there anything you’d like to add about your candidate selection process? Or anything else you would like to say?
Our party was formed from a merger of several parties, so we’re still working on developing a set of common principles from the different parties. But our policy is to keep moving forward and work hard for the good of the people.