Myanmar’s ruling party yesterday conceded defeat in a general election as the opposition led by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi appeared on course for a landslide victory that could ensure it forms the next government.
“We lost,” Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) acting chairman Htay Oo told reporters a day after the Southeast Asian country’s first free nationwide election in a quarter of a century.
By late afternoon, vendors outside the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Yangon were selling red T-shirts with Aung San Suu Kyi’s image and the words “We won.”
The election commission later began announcing constituency-by-constituency results from Sunday’s poll. All of the first 12 parliamentary seats announced were won by the NLD.
The keenly watched vote was Myanmar’s first general election since its long-ruling military ceded power to Burmese President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government in 2011, ushering in a period of reform and opening up to foreign investment.
The NLD said its own tally of results posted at polling stations around the country showed it was on track to win more than 70 percent of the seats being contested in parliament, above the two-thirds threshold it needs to form Myanmar’s first democratically elected government since the early 1960s.
“They must accept the results, even though they don’t want to,” NLD spokesman Win Htein told reporters, adding that in the highly populated central region, the Nobel peace laureate’s party looked set to win more than 90 percent of seats.
Earlier, a smiling Aung San Suu Kyi appeared on the balcony of the NLD’s headquarters and in a brief address urged supporters to be patient and wait for the official results.
Traffic squeezed at a walking pace through a fast-gathering crowd outside the NLD office after the first results were announced. They listened to songs and watched an Aung San Suu Kyi video on a big screen hung from the building, although many huddled under umbrellas as torrential rain dampened the mood.
The election was a landmark in the country’s unsteady journey to democracy from the military dictatorship that made the nation a pariah state for so long.
It is also a moment that Aung San Suu Kyi will relish after spending years under house arrest following the country’s 1990 election, when the NLD won a landslide victory that was ignored by the junta.
This time the ruling party, created by the former junta and led by retired military officers, and the chief of the armed forces have pledged to respect the result.
However, although the election appears to have dealt a decisive defeat to the USDP, a period of uncertainty still looms over the country, because it is not clear how Aung San Suu Kyi will share power easily with the still dominant military.
The military-drafted constitution guarantees one-quarter of parliament’s seats to unelected members of the armed forces and allows the commander-in-chief to nominate the head of three powerful ministries: interior, defense and border security.
The charter also gives the armed forces the right to take over the government under certain circumstances. The military also maintains a grip on the economy through holding companies.
Even if the NLD gets the majority it needs, Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from taking the presidency under the constitution written by the junta to preserve its power.
Aung San Suu Kyi has said she would be the power behind the new president regardless of a charter she has derided as “very silly.”
Incomplete vote counts showed some of the most powerful USDP politicians trailing in their bids for parliamentary seats.
Among the losers was USDP chief Htay Oo, who, in the rural Irrawaddy Delta heartlands that are a bastion of support for his party, told reporters he was “surprised” by his own defeat.
Voting in the historic election was, for the most part, trouble-free, despite religious tensions fanned by Buddhist nationalists whose actions have intimidated Myanmar’s Muslim minority in the run-up to the poll.
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official
CAUTION: Taiwan had zero cases of death from food poisoning for six years until last year, when two people died after eating wildlife, an FDA official said The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged the public not to eat wildlife or unidentified wild plants, as they could be fatal, with nearly 7,000 people affected by food poisoning last year, including two deaths due to wildlife consumption. The number of food poisoning incidents increased by nearly 50 percent last year, from 398 cases involving 4,616 people in the previous year to 503 cases involving 6,944 people, FDA data showed. That figure was the second-highest in history, the FDA said, adding that the highest number was recorded in 1997, with 7,235 people. Among the 503 cases, 87 were food poisoning clusters