Well-Known Social Activist Kyaw Thu Likely to Run for Parliament

By Moe Myint 1 June 2015

RANGOON — The former Myanmar Academy Award-winning actor and prominent social worker Kyaw Thu says he is looking to add “politician” to his résumé, with plans to compete in Burma’s general election later this year.

The founder and president of Rangoon’s Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS), Kyaw Thu told The Irrawaddy on Monday that he had not yet decided whether he would compete with the backing of a political party or run as an independent. He intends to run for office in the constituency of either Mayangone Township in Rangoon or Pegu Division’s Pyay Township.

The quinquagenarian said that if he were to opt for party affiliation, “I may join the hearts of the people’s party.”

He did not say whether that would mean running as a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD), widely considered to be Burma’s most popular party. Kyaw Thu’s wife Shwe Zee Kwat said she did not consider her husband to be an NLD member.

The Irrawaddy was unable to contact a representative from the NLD on Monday to find out if the party was interested in fielding Kyaw Thu as one of its candidates.

Kyaw Thu declined to offer specific issues that he would champion in his campaign for a parliamentary seat.

Hla Swe, a sitting parliamentarian with the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), told The Irrawaddy that he was “really impressed with [Kyaw Thu’s] courage to test his qualifications like that.”

The FFSS was founded in 2001 and offers funeral services free of charge to people of all race, religion and background. Kyaw Thu has received nearly 10 international humanitarian aids awards for his work.

If Kyaw Thu contests in the general election, it will be his first taste of professional politics.

More than 70 political parties have registered to compete in the nationwide elections, expected to be held in early November. Parties are currently in the process of assembling their candidate lists.