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The ruling party candidate contesting the upper house seat that incorporates Aung San Suu Kyi’s Kawhmu district has urged voters to vote for the candidate, not the party.
The comment from business tycoon and Union Solidarity and Development Party member Khin Shwe is in stark contrast to comments previously made by Suu Kyi, the incumbent for the lower house seat of Kawhmu.
In August, Suu Kyi told voters to focus on the National League for Democracy, not its individual representatives, amid controversy over the candidates chosen to represent the opposition party in the 8 November election.
Khin Shwe spent Saturday campaigning for his currently held upper house seat labelled Constituency-9, which incorporates Kawhmu, a largely rural district south of Rangoon.
“To be absolutely honest, the idea of casting vote based on the party makes sense for urban populations. But in a rural area such as yours, there are a lot of needs in terms of infrastructure such as roads, electricity, irrigation and economy. If you are considering your vote based on which party a candidate belongs to then consider which individual will see to your needs?” Khin Shwe asked potential voters.
“As for us, we not only raise these issues in the parliament but are also providing help to locals at our own financial expense so rural areas such as yours should consider the individual that is running.”
Khin Shwe won his upper house seat in the 2010 general elections with 74 percent of the ballot. Constituency-9 includes Tontay, Kungyangon and Kawhmu townships. This year, the seat has been expanded to include Seikgyi-Kanaungto, Dala and Coco Island townships.
Accompanying Khin Shwe on the campaign trail was his daughter-in-law and popular actress Nanda Hlaing. The star turn kept to Khin Shwe’s message of increased development, urging locals to vote for the candidate most likely to oversee a hike in living standards.
USDP campaigners were visible across Rangoon on Saturday. In Yankin Township, volunteers went door-to-door distributing flyers and urging residents to put their trust in a known quantity, Thein Sein’s army backed party that has been in control since 2011.
“I campaign with my activities. Our party won’t criticise other parties. Our strength is what we do for the people. We are always ready for this,” said Myo Khin, a USDP candidate.
“People will decide in the 2015 election. We did everything we can for the people, with sincerity and honesty. That’s why I believe I am going to win in the 2015 election,” said Thaung Kyaw, said another USDP candidate in a different constituency.”
The NLD has out-voiced the USDP in the run up to the election thus far, drawing boisterous support at campaign rallies and candidate events across the country. With large brushstrokes, Suu Kyi’s party has pushed its credentials as Burma’s democratic vanguard.
In Rangoon on Saturday, Khin Swe and the USDP’s promises of cash injections and a local development boost was heard by some potential voters.
“I will give my vote to those who can bring good things to our quarter or township and can lead our country to prosperity. This is the most important, I think. I will support who can do good things to our township,” said Thein Lwin, a Rangoon resident.
Reuters contributed to this report