My country, Burma, just held the first election in 20 years last Sunday. The last time was in 1990 where the opposition party, National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had a big victory over the government’s party, but the military government did not recognize the results and shamelessly remained seated in power. At that time, I was young – just in the second grade. My eldest brother was just 16 years old. My parents were active supporters to the NLD party. Our home served as the NLD (unofficial) office for our village. The whole family campaigned for the party, organized and hosted for the party’s township representatives’ campaign trips to the villages nearby. Even me, as a then second grader, was given some tasks by my parents to work for the party. My main responsibility was to campaign, on behalf of my parents, elderly people and disable persons, who are going to give advanced votes, to make sure they correctly know how to vote, how to ask the vote collectors to vote for the party they wish for so that the collectors (most of them were the government’s people) could not cheat them.
So, since a couple months before the elections, to request them to vote for the NLD, every evening after dark, I often joined my parents or, sometimes, I had to visit alone around the village on my little bike – carrying my school bag in which there were the party’s statements, the copies of the candidates’ speeches, and some newsletters about the party, people can read them, if they are interested in. I also carried stamps and the sample copies of ballot templates – to demonstrate them how to vote. My parents had the reasons to ask me to do this – elderly persons and disables have less/little information about the parties. They tend to vote to anyone’s party they know. Even though there were relatively a more ‘fair and free’ atmosphere in 1990, compared to the 2010 elections, there were still some restrictions for the campaigners especially the adults like my parents have some restriction for an access to the voters.
As a kid, I could visit around more freely than my parents could do. Personally, I was a very active and playful kid, usually speak passionately, had been very aware about the party’s news and campaign’ strategies (even though I did not have much knowledge about the party’s policies) since I went along with my parents all the time. And plus, I memorized by heart and could recite almost all the ‘then hit’ speeches of the NLD party leaders. Out of the cuteness, my door to door visits were welcomed. Many people who knew well about us even requested my parents to send the party’ updated news with me – “Send Pauk Pauk (which is my nickname) to our home this evening” is like a secret code for them – to say “Feed us with some updates about the party.” Continue reading