Independent candidate Sai Hso Harn spoke to DVB about contesting the regional assembly seat in Langkho, Shan State, and his experience running an NGO to provide training for farmers.
Question: Can you tell us about your personal and non-governmental organisation [NGO] background?
A: I am a native of Langkho town in southern Shan State and graduated high school there. I’m 38 years old and agriculture is my profession. Four years ago, I founded Shan Agricultural Development (SAD), an NGO that provides education and practical training to farmers in southern, northern and eastern Shan State on livelihood development, crop yield improvement, and production of organic pesticide and fertiliser.
Q: How did you get involved in politics?
A: I’m no politician nor do I have experience in politics. But I have met with the minister of agriculture and irrigation in Naypyidaw and visited the parliament five times on observation trips. After that, I realised that I would be able to work more effectively on farmers’ issues if I were in the parliament, so I decided to run in the upcoming elections as an independent candidate.
Q: Who are you competing against in Langkho? How confident are you about winning the seat?
A: Also running for election in my constituency are candidates from major Shan parties, Shan Nationalities League for Democracy and Shan Nationalities Democratic Party, as well as the National League for Democracy and Union Solidarity and Development Party. I am fully confident that I will win the polls as 80 percent of the population here are in the farming business – they are more interested in speaking to a candidate who can relate to their lives rather than those who talk about politics. Because of that, I am confident that they will be more supportive of me, who can bring their voices to the parliament.
Q: Where are you campaigning? Can you tell us about your experiences in the areas you’ve been so far?
A: I plan to campaign in eight wards across Langkho and village-tracts including Wanhat, Wantein, Nawnglon and Namhton. I have already been to Wanhat and Wantein since I began campaigning on 28 September. What the farmers in that region need the most right now is adequate access to water due to the unusual weather this year. We discussed with them the means to bring access to water in their areas.
Q: Where do you get the financial support for campaigning?
A: Nowhere. We had to pay a 300,000 kyat (US $230) application fee for the election and also spent over 1,000,000 kyat on printing leaflets and vinyl posters and going on field trips. I am out of my pocket, but my friends and colleagues also chipped in.
Q: Anything else you would like to say?
A: In order for a politician to work for political and national development, he or she needs approval from the people. However in order to support them, the people need to first prioritise solving their livelihood issues and I would like to tell the voters in my constituency to support me as I will truly focus on their issues in parliament.