RANGOON — As the dust settles and results trickle in, it appears that Burma’s ruling party has suffered a number of serious setbacks as ministers, sitting lawmakers and a top party official have come forward to accept defeat. While official results of Sunday’s historic vote are still pending, a picture has begun to emerge of a legislature much lighter on the old guard.
The roster of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was crammed with so-called “crony” candidates, some of them re-contesting seats they assumed after a fraudulent election in 2010, the country’s last nationwide poll. Some of these prosperous friends of the military were among the first to fall when faced with an opposition party that was able and willing to contest.
If provisional reports ring true, the following wealthy candidates will not assume a place in the newly formed parliament.
Two US-blacklisted candidates—both current parliamentarians—will not be returning to their seats early next year. Htay Myint and Khin Shwe, candidates for the Lower House in Tenasserim’s Myeik and the Upper House in Rangoon’s Kawhmu constituencies, respectively, both appear to have lost to opponents from the National League for Democracy (NLD).
Khin Shwe, chairman of the Zaykabar Group of Companies, said the loss could have a silver lining, predicting that an NLD government—steered by chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi—could lead to more foreign investment.
“I believe that after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government begins, there will be many more foreign direct investors,” said Khin Shwe, whose interests are primarily in construction and real estate, “so I need to refocus on my businesses.”
Htay Myint, the chairman of the Yuzana conglomerate and also subject to US-sanctions, could not be reached on Monday after his expected defeat in southeastern Burma.
Minister of Commerce Win Myint also suffered a crushing defeat against NLD’s Win Myint Aung for the Lower House seat representing Sagaing Division’s Depayin Township, according to his opponent. The minister’s deputy, Pwint San, also lost his Mayangone Township race to an NLD candidate, May Win Myint.
Also on the losing end was Sports Minister and CEO Tint Hsan, seeking election as the Lower House representative of Myaungmya in Irrawaddy Division. He lost in what appears to be a proper trouncing by Soe Moe Thu of the NLD.
The fall of financial heavyweights weren’t felt by the USDP alone, as several other “cronies” who chose to run as independents also found themselves outmatched, among them Sakura Htay Aung and Zawtika Khin Hlaing, also overtaken by the NLD in Rangoon’s South Dagon and Kyimindaing townships, respectively.
As results become clearer and more definitive, more moguls might be revealed among the winners. At this early stage, however, only one such candidate is known to have survived the vote: Thet Thet Khine of the NLD, who overtook the USDP’s vice Speaker of Parliament Nanda Kyaw Zwa.