I get to go vote on Sunday because there’s a vacancy seat for parliament in my township. There’s someone running in my township who I feel I can trust with my vote. I prefer not to say who, but this person wants democracy and has struggled to achieve democracy in the past. I voted during the 2010 election, but I wasn’t sure about who to vote for back then – I couldn’t tell if any of the candidates really wanted democracy or not.
I think most people are much more excited about this election than the one in 2010 because Aung San Suu Kyi’s party is participating this time. I’m not a member of any party, but I have been to one of Aung San Suu Kyi’s rallies. It was very exciting. People lined up on the side of the road to catch a glimpse of her arriving – villagers, monks, children and even old people who had trouble walking. They were all shouting, “Long Live Mother Suu!” It was heart-melting to see all these people who, like me, have been waiting so long for democracy.
“We still have a long way to go”
I believe Suu Kyi when she says these won’t be completely free and fair elections. Our country is still only edging towards democracy, and there are still some conservative people who will do all they can to prevent change. And of course, this by-election won’t change that much in the short term because it only concerns a small number of seats in parliament. That means that even if the opposition wins all these seats, the military-backed USDP party will still control parliament.
We still have a long way to go. Letting the opposition run doesn’t mean things have changed. Being able to live in complete freedom and peace – now that would be change! However, I think it’s the first step. It’s like planting a seed in the soil; I hope to see a fully grown plant some day.
Hopefully, the opposition candidates who are elected will develop good relationships with representatives of other parties within parliament. I believe they can build up trust and move towards democracy together.