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Htoo May, the Arakan National Party candidate contesting the upper house seat in constituency number 11, Ann and Ramee townships, spoke to DVB about her campaign plans and priorities for her community.
Question: Who do you see as your main contender in the elections? How have you prepared for the win?
Answer: I can say my main contender in the elections will be the USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party] candidate Dr Ba Swe, as the USDP is financially strong. As for preparation, I plan on going to campaign rallies to explain my party’s policies to the public and how our policies can serve their interests.
Q: Have you started campaigning?
A: I am in Rangoon to collect the vinyl banners and will be heading down to my constituency afterwards. Our party has already launched our campaign there.
Q: You are running election for an upper house seat in Ann and Ramee townships. What will you do for the local population if you win?
A: The main policies of the ANP in the election are to achieve self-determination for ethnic nationalities, federalism and democracy, and ethnic equality. As I have a background in the education sector, I plan to prioritise youth eduction, and also creating job opportunities for them to narrow the gap with mainland Burma regions.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
A: Born on 26 June 1979, I studied at the high school in Zayatpyin until ninth grade and passed the 10th grade (matriculation) from Rangoon. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. I worked as a volunteer English teacher at the Scholar Institute between 2008 and 2014. From November 2014 to June 2015, I worked as a coordinator for the Shwe Gas Movement. I was also involved in Women Leadership training programmes by the RFF foundation [Resources for the Future] in Arakan State and Irrawaddy and Rangoon divisions.
Q: Which sectors do you think should be prioritised for development in your constituency?
A: Electricity and transportation are important for any country’s development. The roads in my constituency are not only bad but also unsafe to use. Also lack of job opportunities and access to education are fundamental signs of poverty. In order to build infrastructure in the area, the government should first tackle the major issues with transportation and electricity and if they can work these out, health and education sectors can also improve.
Q: What do you plan to do if you win the elections?
A: To fulfil the basic needs of my constituency ‑ but it is easier to make a promise than to deliver it, as it can be difficult under the 2008 constitution that allows [the Tatmadaw] 25 percent of seats in the [bicameral] parliament without having to run for election.
As youth have an important role in the country’s reforms, I would like to focus on their education. At the same time, I will work on bringing electricity access and help the local population to start up home businesses focusing on agriculture and livestock breeding. I would join the fight for democracy with ethnic nationalities in the parliament to ensure the budget provided by the central government is used effectively to fulfil the basic needs of my region.
Q: Can you tell us about your political ambition?
A: I wish to bring about a change in our country for the sake of young people’s lives. I accept the notion that young people are the future of the country. Through our lifetime, we have seen young people living in hardship and poverty. My political ambition is to promote independent thinking among the youth and provide them freedom of education. Also I would work with various other ethnic nationalities in our country to bring about federalism and democracy, which we all want.
Moreover, I aim to work together with ethnic MPs in the parliament for self-determination in ethnic regions, looking towards a peaceful Burma and bringing about the end of the civil war that has been raging since the independence.
Read more DVB interviews here.
Read more about the upcoming November election here.