Daw Nan Moe, a Ta’ang (Palaung) National Party (TNP) that won a Lower House seat in northern Shan State’s Mantong Township in Palaung Self-Administered Zone, recently spoke with BNI Election Newsroom.
Q: What course of action did the TNP take to successfully win the Lower House seat in Mantong Township?
A: We worked very hard on many things. Roads and transportation were very bad during the rainy season but even though it was difficult we tried to reach the villages. The public had no experience with the electoral process. We had to explain in detail why the election was being held, why it was important to them for their area and in the country. Then we had to explain about how the voting process works. It was very tiring. There is a big difference between explaining things to those with some knowledge and those with none at all. In Mantong Township the residents were very naïve about the whole thing because they have no education.
Q: What challenges did you face during campaigning in more remote mountainous areas?
A: Communication was a big challenge. I can only speak Rumai (one of the three Ta’ang dialects) this sometimes made it very difficult (to campaign). It wasn’t an issue in Sailain and Tawnay where everyone speaks Rumai. But there are over 50 villages in the township with different Ta’ang dialects spoken. I had to hire an interpreter to get my point across (in some villages). When we were campaigning we weren’t able to demonstrate how to properly choose chose their candidate on voting ballots. We weren’t sure if they needed to stamp or tick ballots. At the time it wasn’t confirmed. Also, there were no phone lines (in the area). We couldn’t receive any information (from the outside) so couldn’t stay up to date on any last minute changes by the Union Election Commission. It was very difficult for example in one village we went to I noticed errors on the voter list. I wanted to amend them, but we couldn’t, the same for the ward and village election commission. Despite the many difficulties we faced we couldn’t take a break because there wasn’t enough time. We just had to keep going and continue (campaigning).
Q: What support did you get during campaigning that helped you win the majority of votes?
A: It was largely due to efforts made by U Nyi Htin, the TNP financial officer. We won because of his support. U Nyi Htin worked very hard and is already experienced with the electoral process. Even though I’m competent, I’m still young and not as experienced (as some of the older party members) that are well known and influential (in the community).
Q: When you take office what will be your first priority?
A: What I want to work on most is (improving) education. Even before contesting the election I was involved with education and opening schools with the support of community based organizations. I would be doing this even if I didn’t become an MP. Now that I will be entering Parliament I will have more authority (to accomplish these goals). I believe if our township is developed, the level of education will improve. If people are educated then peace and development will follow. I want to work for better education and fix the roads to improve transportation.
Q: What steps will you take to improve education?
A: Currently, there are 87 vacant teaching positions (for schools in Mantong Township). The education officer (for the area) is very negligent and hasn’t filled these vacancies. There are vacancies (in many) of the high schools and the high school teachers that are available must also teach classes for the elementary students. Before I could only watch but now I can bring the issue up in Parliament. The most important thing is (changing) the political system in Myanmar. Secondly is getting sufficient teachers for the schools. Currently, teachers are not disciplined, including the education officer. They don’t always provide adequate lessons for students.
Q: Besides improving education, what else will you work on in Mantong Township?
A: In line with TNP policies, we plan to initiate agricultural development in the region. As far as improving job opportunities, I believe as the country develops after the new government takes office it will naturally address the issues of rampant unemployment affecting the countryside.
Q: As a female MP, what kind of challenges do you expect to face in Parliament?
A: I’m not worried. I have been facing challenges since the day I was born.
Q: What else do you want to say to the community?
A: I want to thank them. We will continue to work hard to be good leaders. After we become MPs I want them to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to discuss any difficulties they face in their respective communities. They are welcome to come to our office anytime.
Translated by Thida Linn
Edited by BNI staff