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Going toe-to-toe with Suu Kyi

Yu Yu Khine attending a parliamentary briefing in Naypyidaw, March 2015. (PHOTO: Yu Yu Khine Facebook)

Yu Yu Khine, the National Development Party’s lower house candidate in Rangoon’s Kawhmu Township, spoke to DVB about her history with the community, and how she feels about going toe-to-toe with NLD chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi.

Question: You were running a business but decided to contest a seat in the 2015 elections. Why?

Answer: Everyone wants to see development and change in their country – I am one of them. I want the best education system for our country and studied the bill amending the National Education Law when it was introduced. My research showed me that the bill, rather than promoting education reforms, would lead to chaos. We [the NDP] sent a letter of objection as we saw it as our national duty. We also attended the upper house’s briefing on the bill and vocally objected to it as well. Then I realised that in order to work efficiently for our country, we need to be in a position where we have a voice – that was the driving force of my political ambition.

Q: How have you prepared to become an MP and lawmaker?

A: I have been working in private businesses since I sat the matriculation exam in 1991 – I now have 23 years of work experience. In 2007, I became a branch manager for a foreign company and I have been running my own business since 2013. If I become an MP, I can use my management skills to work efficiently as a lawmaker.

Q: You are a native of Tamwe township in Rangoon. Why are you running the elections in Kawhmu?

A: I used to have relatives who lived in Tontay and Kawhmu when I was young and had visited them regularly every year. I hadn’t been to the towns much since I started my career, but finally made it back about two years ago – not much had changed there. I did some research on why development in these areas had been so slow despite lying just outside of Rangoon and found that lack of education is one of the main factors. When parents are poor, they cannot afford to keep their children in school after grade four. I chose to run in Kawhmu as I wish to see development in the region.

Q: Have you started campaigning there?

A: My campaigners have started visiting villages in the area to speak to constituents about their needs so that we can gauge what we can do for them from our [party’s] perspective. As we don’t have much backing, we cannot make promises but we can explain to them what can be done – we see that in order to bring development to the region, we need to create job opportunities. There are 62 communities in total that we need to reach, including 127 villages and seven wards, and we would like to make it to all of them if possible.

Q: What do you think people in Kawhmu township need the most? What are they hoping for from their parliamentary candidates?

A: I am amazed by the fact that they take education into account so much. This probably has to do with teaching by the Sayadaws [local monks] – the locals believe that with a better education, their life can improve. However, many people in the area did not have a chance to finish their education due to financial hardship. Most people here rely on farming and gardening. One problem that they face is having no work in between cropping seasons, and that contributes to their financial struggle. Most of the constituents demand better education and most also want improved electricity access.

Q: What is your view on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader and your main contender in the Kawhmu constituency?

A: I admire and respect her as a daughter of General Aung San – she too is working for the good of the country although our strategies may differ. I too love this country like she does but we may have different approaches, so I don’t have any other comments.

Q: Currently contesting the Kawhmu seat in the lower house is: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the ruling-Union Solidarity and Development Party’s U Kyaw Zin Hein, Modern People’s Party’s Daw Yi Yi San, and the Myanmar Farmers Development Party’s U Nyi Nyi Win. How tough do you think the competition will be?

A: It’s a competition so there will be winners and losers – I expected it will not be easy to win but we have no plan to relent and we will do our work to the fullest. I have some ideas on sources of income we can create for the locals and if I get elected, I will work to implement those.

Q: Do you have any background in politics or political activities?

A: I took part in the 8888 uprising as an eighth grader when I was old enough to be aware of the political environment. I was lucky that my parents did not allow me go out on the day when the military seized power and subsequently started sweeping the street so I didn’t end up a martyr.

Q: Can you tell us about your education and business background?

A: I have a Bachelor degree (Burmese major) and two postgraduate diplomas in Maritime Law and Business Law. I also have an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration from the Association of Business Executives (ABE) UK and am currently studying for an MBA in Business Law. As for my career, I am the executive director at Aungmyin Kadaykadar Company.

Q: Of many difficulties Burma is facing – such as the economy, education, health, civil war and natural disasters – which do you think should be prioritised?

A: All of those are important issues – but the most important issue of all is concerning peace. Only when there is peace, will there be equality among people. Otherwise if the conflicts do not stop stop, there will be delays in development as potential investors take stability into account. So peace first and the rest can follow.

Q: Anything else you want to say to the voters?

A: As I believe the youth is the future of our country, I hope to get more youth on board in Burma’s future political. Young people are capable of working efficiently and if they have a chance to finish their education and build experience, they will be able to contribute to our country’s development.

Also, I would like to tell the voters that an MP has a responsibility not only to bring about development in his or her constituency, but also to monitor the legislative sector and efficiency of the laws enacted. If MPs can fulfil this responsibility, then his or her region will see development. But this is not just one MP’s job – they must work together with concerned government administrations and if this can be done, I believe we will be able to see development in administrative regions and also Burma as a whole.