Unofficial Results: Aung San Suu Kyi wins

April 2, 2012

Unofficial Results: Aung San Suu Kyi wins

Myanmar (Burma) Rising

YANGON, April 1 — Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi won a seat in parliament on Sunday, her party said, after a historic by-election that is testing Myanmar’s nascent reform credentials and could convince the West to end sanctions.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party announced to loud cheers at its headquarters that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate had won in Kawhmu, south of the commercial capital Yangon, paving the way for her first role in government after a two decade struggle against dictatorship.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has won,” an NLD official announced, referring to Suu Kyi by her honorific title. Myanmar’s Election Commission had yet to confirm any results from the by-elections for 45 legislative seats.

The United States and European Union have hinted that some sanctions – imposed over the past two decades in response to human rights abuses – may be lifted if the election is free and fair, unleashing a wave of investment in the impoverished but resource-rich country bordering rising powers, India and China.

The charismatic and widely popular Suu Kyi, had complained last week of “irregularities”, though none significant enough to derail her party’s bid for 44 of the seats. Suu Kyi made no immediate comment on her victory.

From dawn, voters quietly filed into makeshift polling stations at schools, religious centres and community buildings, some gushing with excitement after casting ballots for the frail Suu Kyi, or “Aunty Suu” as she is affectionately known.

Among her supporters who voted early Sunday in Suu Kyi’s rustic constituency of bamboo-thatched homes in Kawhmu, there was little doubt she would win. “My whole family voted for her and I am sure all relatives and friends of us will vote for her too,” said Naw Ohn Kyi, 59, a farmer from Warthinkha.

“So far as my friends and I have checked, almost everyone we asked voted for Aunty Suu,” added Ko Myint Aung, 27-year shop owner from Kawhmu. To be regarded as credible, the vote needs the blessing of Suu Kyi, who was freed from house arrest in November 2010, six days after a widely criticised general election that paved the way for the end of 49 years of direct army rule and the opening of a parliament stacked with retired and serving military.

President Thein Sein, a General in the former military junta, has surprised the world with the most dramatic political reforms since the military took power in a 1962 coup in the former British colony then known as Burma.

In the span of a year, the government has freed hundreds of political prisoners, held peace talks with ethnic rebels, relaxed strict media censorship, allowed trade unions, and showed signs of pulling back from the powerful economic and political orbit of its giant neighbour China.

It was rewarded last November when Hillary Clinton made the first visit to the country by a US secretary of state since 1955. Business executives, mostly from Asia but many from Europe, have swarmed to Yangon in recent weeks to hunt for investment opportunities in the country of 60 million people, one of the last frontier markets in Asia.


Voting took place under the watch of small numbers of observers from the European Union and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), who were given only a few days to prepare inside Myanmar. Some said they considered themselves “election watchers” rather than observers.

The last election, in November 2010, was widely seen as rigged to favour the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the biggest in parliament.

The NLD boycotted that vote. But as Myanmar changes, so too is Suu Kyi. At 66, many see her now as more politically astute, more realistic and compromising. She has described President Thein Sein as “honest” and “sincere” and accepted his appeal for the NLD to take part.

Her top priorities, she says, are introducing the Rule of Law, ending long-simmering ethnic insurgencies and amending the 2008 constitution ensuring the military retains a political stake and its strong influence over the country.

While her party may end up with only a small number of seats, many expect her to exert outsized influence. Some Burmese wonder if conservatives would dare oppose her ideas in parliament given her popularity, especially ahead of a general election in 2015. Many MPs want to be seen aligned with her, sharing some of her popular support.

But the election has not gone smoothly. Suu Kyi has suffered from ill health and accused rivals of vandalising NLD posters, padding electoral registers and “many cases of intimidation.”

Some of these infractions, however, have been quite minor and are typical of elections across Southeast Asia, where vote-buying and even assassinations are commonplace.

The NLD on Friday said a betel nut had been fired by catapult at one of its candidates and a stack of hay had been set on fire close to where another was due to give a speech.

It made fresh claims of irregularities on Sunday and said some ballots papers had been covered in wax to make it tricky to write on. It accused the USDP of waiting outside some polling stations and telling voters to back their party.

Sceptics in the democracy movement say Suu Kyi is working too closely with a government stacked with the same former generals who persecuted dissidents, fearing she is being exploited to convince the West to end sanctions and make the legislature appear effective. Others have almost impossibly high hopes for her to accelerate reforms once she enters parliament.

It was not clear when the election results would be officially announced. The full result has been promised within one week.

Some US restrictions such as visa bans and asset freezes could be lifted quickly if the election goes smoothly, diplomats say, while the EU may end its ban on investment in timber and the mining of gemstones and metals. — Reuters

13 thoughts on “Unofficial Results: Aung San Suu Kyi wins

  1. Excellent result. Shows that only good can come out when you decide to engage. But let us not count the chickens before they….

    The next step should be for the Lady’s party to progressively assume greater role in running civilian affairs while the Junta guarantee peace and stability (without losing their share of the cake). Perfect for Myanmar.

  2. The military in Myanmar will have a political role like their counterparts in Indonesia and Turkey. It will be good since such an arrangement can provide a check against politicians. Aung Sun Suu Kyi promised to restore the Rule of Law and unite all Myanmareses. Fighting corruption, human trafficking and narcotics must be part of the Lady’s political and social agenda.

    The latest developments initiated by President Thein Sein are the building blocks of a new democratic Myanmar. As a gesture of goodwill, the international community must call it Myanmar and drop all sanctions against the country.–Din Merican

  3. Dato : A new DEMOCRATIC Myanmar? No… Just a NEW MYANMAR. Just heard the Lady give a three minute speech. And know what? Not once did she use the D-word. Instead she talked about a peaceful and prosperous Myanmar. At last she seems to be on the right track. Good for her.

    Now they need to kick out most of the foreign journalists… nothing but a meddling lot.

  4. See, even Myanmar is trying to rise from the ashes. Here we are still in dirty filth, corruption the scum of the earth. The world all over in adversity is churning ideas with ideals collating. Wallowing in filth are going to die a living hell on earth? The cross road is GE 13

  5. Cross roads?? There are many cross roads since. And the chickens are still crossing them and getting run over. Nobody knows why.

  6. Only practising a lesser xenophobia in order to confront a much greater xenophobia that has dominated for far too long.

    No harm in that.

  7. The only xerostomia is yours, Isa.
    The only xenophobia is with the Tatmadaw. Not with the average Burmese.
    You can’t even imagine the depth of poverty, oppression, suffering, pain, inhumanity, disillusionment, disenfranchisement and hopelessness of the Burmese people. Anyone wants to take the issue of my use of the word Burmese? I’m no Burma/Myanmar expert, but i sure hell know the human condition and suffering when i see it. For instance, Burma is ranked 190 in WHO’s ranking for public health.

    I’ve been among them (and also their corrupt, blinkered elite) in the very recent past, definitely not for the first time. Their only hope and faith in times like these, are with the NLD and the Lady. It’s not so strange, as i do the same back home. I am also glad that NLD has won 3 out of the 4 seats contested in Naypyidaw itself(& probably 43 out of the total 45).

    Daw Aung San has to thread warily and U Thein Sein’s does not have the carte blanche to do whatever he needs to do. His reformist stance is limited to the first priority – the partial lifting of sanctions by both the EU, Australia and the US. He is not even the “First among Equals”. The road map to socio-economic recovery will take time and has not been fully worked out. It’s a hair trigger situation. The decayed infrastructure can be seen within 2 kms from the CBD.

  8. We are all aware of the depth of poverty etc in Myanmar but to constantly dwell on it will not kick start the country.

    That is why the decision of the Lady to engage the Junta is the best option. Even with the most optimistic forcasts, the process will produce no giant leaps, only an inching forward, with setbacks aplenty.

    If, however, both sides are honest and serious and can keep their nerve, the current move might show the way to other nations on how to resolve otherwise intractable issues. Already in faraway Egypt the Brotherhood is beginning to have difficulties with their military. The Myanmar experiment might well show them the way.

    And oh… not to forget…they should kick out most foreign lournalists for better progress.

  9. It’s not just materialistic poverty, my friend – it’s Humanity that’s suffering. The situation is that very much like that of the Palestinians – who feel that they have been cheated of their land, dignity and thus destiny. Injustice and helplessness.

    Below the veneer of civilization that Burma has, a roiling tempest of pent-up passion for freedom, liberty and yes, democracy. Talking to a street vendor or an ordinary salaried worker in Yangon, Bago or Mandalay, gives one the insight that all human aspirations are the same – the pursuit of one’s perceived happiness – not so much where the next meal comes from.

    The street crime rate is especially daunting, except that the criminals lay off tourists and foreigners for fear of reprisals from the authorities – who on the other hand, won’t blink an eyelid, if they think they can intimidate the same. Rule of Law is very much in the hands of the elite, just like here – but much more brazen. Burma is not at the crossroads, if it were, i would call her Myanmar. She is at the bottom of the Abyss, trying to climb out.

  10. Materialistic Poverty, Political Poverty, Extreme Poverty of Humanity… what difference does it make? We all know very well that Myanmar is in an abyss. The question is, what is to be done to change the situation?

    Screaming Rule of Law, Street Crime etc. will not do. But for the only two centres of power to finally sit down to talk is what matters. The Junta cannot just be wished away any more than the Lady’s Party can. I cannot see any other way but engagement along current lines.

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