Early on during the Burmese dictatorship, the military were preparing to one day have to face the polls. The roadmap to democracy was announced in 2003. At that time, no authorized opposition existed.
The then dictator, General Than Shwe, had established ten years earlier an association called the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA). Any person of the State apparatus had to be a member. Student, doctor, merchant or lawyer wanted to be able to work should also join this association.
So, in the middle of 2000, the USDA had a number of members equal to half of the Burmese population!
When General Than Shwe withdrew, he organized 2010 election. The opposition didn’t participate, including Aung San Suu Kyi’s Party, the National League for democracy (NLD). The USDA association had mutated into a political party, the one of the military, and was now called Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). Unsurprisingly, it won the election to 85%.
All over the country the executives of the USDA were the local notables. When the association was transformed into a political party, some choose political career while others stayed in local administration.
So today those who enforce the law and those who maintain order are often former USDA. Many do not change their old practices to implement more democratic rules. Mainly their language towards the population stay corruption, paternalism and intimidation.
Logo of Union Solidarity Development Party
The administration is at the beck and call of former junta party.
For example, in Zalun district, a city of the Irrawaddy delta, the local population was invited, sometimes even with a sum of money to participate in a demonstration in support of religion and their representatives, the monastic family.
At the initiative of the local representatives of the USDP, it actually was a protest against the change of article 59(f) of the 2008 constitution, that prevents Aung San Suu Kyi to stand for the post of president of Burma.