Little fingers revolution! Not so little anymore.Friday the 13th November 2015 became a historic day for Myanmar as opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, won the general election in Myanmar, securing a majority of seats in the Parliament.
It allows the party to form new civilian government, exactly 5 years after Suu Kyi was freed from house-arrest, on November 13th, 2010. The election was held on November 8th, with more than 80% of voting eligible people who participated remarkably.
However, the Union Election Commission (UEC) took its time in announcing the results of the election, announcing them every day successively at 9:00 am, 12:00 noon, 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm, from November 9th at 3 pm until November 13th.
Since the election day, voting system and counting of votes in each townships were broadcasting live by leading news media in Myanmar such as MNTV, MITV, MRTV, Sky Net Up to Date channels, as well as leading print and online media such as but not limited to Daily Eleven, 7 Day News, Myanmar Times and Irrawaddy. They posted updates from all over the country every minute and every hour live on their social media platforms, especially on Facebook. Daily Eleven media has remarkably shown its efforts to report the latest news about the election by assigning and spreading out its journalists over the country. People were pleased with these information updates, which highlights the transparency of the 2015 election in Myanmar.
The voters demonstrated tremendous perseverance to complete their participation in this election. Over the last 6 months, UEC announced voter lists full of errors, such as eligible voters that turned out not to be included in the list and nonexistent voters included in it. Moreover, many voters had to go to their respective township offices 3 or 4 times, taking much of their time, especially on their working days, just to go and correct the list so that they may finally get a chance to get to vote in this election. Myanmar citizens working, studying or staying outside of the nation also communicated with their family back home, with family members having to go to government administration offices on their behalf. One Singaporean citizen said his father went to the government township office 5 times but he was still not in the list. At the end, the father told the township officer if his son will turn out not to be in the list, they will report it to UEC, and was finally part of the voters list.
Also, there were a lot of propaganda spread across the nation especially on Facebook, with a lot of posts intending to discourage the Myanmar citizens to go vote namely by asserting there is little chance the opposition party will win the election. Nonetheless, Myanmar citizens living in Singapore fully fulfilled their responsibilities and formed lines of voters queuing up from early morning through the night, in front of the Myanmar Embassy. Mainly because fewer days than the amount were allocated to accommodate all Myanmar voters in Singapore.
During the election day in Myanmar on November 8th, many early-bird voters were queuing up in front of their township voting compounds, starting at 4:00 am in the morning. On that day, a lot of Facebook posts in Myanmar showed voters purple pinkies; indeed, the voting process includes to dip each little finger into the ink to prevent multiple-times voting from a single person – streak that lasts for a few days afterwards.
Everyone in Myanmar was excited, constantly checking Facebook throughout the day and watching the news channels that were broadcasting live coverage of the election. The excitement was rising meanwhile the counting of votes started and was shown live on TV livestream, with people sharing as well vote updates on Facebook.
On Monday, November 9th, even if the news spread the word about NLD winning in the majority of the township throughout the country, Myanmar was still waiting for the official confirmation from UEC. Since then, some disputes occurred in some cities regarding the votes, with allegations of the news media about advance votes in Lashio violating UEC standards and laws, or again about miscounted votes in Kyaung Gone. Current governing party USDP has won in both of these townships. Eventually on November 13th at noon, UEC officially announced NLD won 21 additional seats in the Parliament, totaling 348 seats (with 238 seats in the Lower House and 110 seats in the Upper House), exceeding 50% of the total Parliament’s seats. Such a result allows the opposition party to form a government and propose two vice-presidents from two parliament houses. Besides, the 2008 Constitution law automatically gave 25% of the Parliament’s seats to military officers, which had to propose one other vice-president. One of these vice-presidents will be elected as the new president of Myanmar’s Parliament.
Chairperson of NLD, Aung San Su Kyi requested to meet with President Thein Sein, Commander-in-chief of Myanmar military Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and Parliament Speaker Thura Shwe Man. All of them responded they are willing to meet after finishing the UEC processes.
As the results were being officially announced during the week, many of influential international leaders from USA, Britain, France and others contacted Aung San Suu Kyi anticipating a landslide victory of her party in Myanmar. This new era of Myanmar will socially, politically and economically impact not only its neighbor countries with most populated giants such as China, India and Bangladesh but also countries from all over the world. As the world is watching very closely this newly open door with high potential for fruitful business opportunities, a lot of international businesses are lining-up to come into Myanmar, an exciting brand new market.
Over the past 200 years, the first missionary to Myanmar, Adoniram Judson said: “The future of Myanmar is as bright as the promises of God”. As local tycoons, entrepreneurs and SMEs are preparing to compete and accommodate newly coming-in foreign investments, it is very exciting to participate in this key market and see if the quote of Judson will eventually come true for the nation of Myanmar.