In an interview with reporter Thinn Thiri of RFA’s Myanmar Service, Htay Oo, co-chairman of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and a member of Myanmar's lower house of parliament, discusses his party’s focus during the two-month election campaign period, contributions to party candidates and why none of its candidates have been rejected by the country’s Union Election Commission, the body responsible for the polls in the upcoming general elections when parliamentary representatives and a new president will be selected. A total of 6,189 candidates — 5,866 candidates from 93 political parties and 323 independents — will contest in the Nov. 8 elections.
RFA: What is the USDP focusing on in its election campaign?
HTAY OO: We have been carrying out doing party duties since before the campaign period began [on Sept. 8]. Actually, our works are not for the party, but for people. We have three major goals. The first one is we need to believe that our policies are in the interest of the people. If we don’t believe this, then we can’t work for the people. The USDP is built on party members’ beliefs. The second one is that not only to believe in it, but to do our work according to what we believe. We have to try to work together with non-USDP members for good outcomes. The USDP is working [to improve] people’s education and health as well as the economy and society. Because we are doing these things for people, we can get along with people, and we have people’s trust.
RFA: The USDP gives its own candidates 10 million kyats (U.S. $7,782) each to spend on their campaigns, but other smaller parties can’t do this. Why?
HTAY OO: It’s not true. We can’t afford to give USDP candidates that much. We just told them that each candidate can’t spend more than 10 million kyats on campaigning, in accordance with what the Union Election Commission (UEC) announced. We have candidates who can spend more than 10 million kyats on their campaigns, but we have warned them not to spend more than 10 million kyats.
RFA: The UEC has rejected the applications of more than 90 candidates, but none of them were from the USDP. How did you manage not to have any of your candidates rejected?
HTAY OO: We drew upon our experience in the 2010 general elections. We had investigated our candidates, but we didn’t know that their parents had to be Myanmar citizens when the candidate was born. Three USDP candidates were rejected in the 2010 elections. So, this time, we checked them out again and again at the township level, in districts and in divisions. As the final step, we checked them out in the central headquarters. That’s why we have had fewer mistakes. We haven’t had any candidates from our party rejected yet.
RFA: What is your goal for the elections?
HTAY OO: We are contesting in the election because we believe we will win, but the result will be made by the people’s decision. Everybody wants stability and development in the region, but the ways in which people in different regions want that achieved cannot be the same. We will work on ensuring stability for all people in different regions.
RFA: What can you promise to do for people if the USDP wins the elections?
HTAY OO: Building a state has to be done consistently, not just for five or 10 years. For example, we have had land grab problems for many years, not only in this government’s term. We have been resolving these problems in parliament, and we will continue to resolve them.