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Deterrence and information shortage off the well-trodden paths in Shan State
In a teashop in Hopone, about 30 min by car from the Shan State capitol Taunggyi in the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone, the employees of the tobacco plant discussed the choice. In spite of the general recognition that the National League for Democracy's assistance in areas of ethnical origin is largely limited to cities, with country constituents choosing their own ethnical leaders, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's political group in the Pa-O municipality, the biggest ethnical group in the county, seemed more supportive than proposed.
The probability, however, that many of them could elect their own political parties seemed low. Several of the pro-NLD operatives were Taunggyi commutees, but ethnical Pa-O from the community also voiced their backing for Myanmar's opposing faction and said they thought Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was the best prospect for bringing good news to their area.
A 50-year-old lady in classic Pa-O clothing, a bath robe wound around her head, waited outside the tearoom for a ride after work. I' ve never chosen before", she said in her mother tongue Pa-O. It does not know the Myanmar tongue. "It' a big part of the task to be able to choose.
Aung Aung San Suu Kyi, because I think she is the best person," she added with a big grin. When asked if she could show Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's political partys on the page, she seemed confused. She not only did not recognize the NLD's struggling pepper icon, she did not realize how the different disparate hallmarks related to the different political groups from which she has the right to elect.
One young employee tried to tell, but in a gloomy reflect on how many of Myanmar's constituents are deprived of their rights due to educational failure and corrupt practices, the news did not seem to make much good news for the otherwise keen elector. A lot of constituents are left ignorant of election processes or political parties.
But another more eerie power prevented the electorate of Pa-O from choosing their electoral group. A 38-year-old Pa-O man, a first-time constituent with the ethnical party's traditionally dragons emblem on his right wrist, declared the issue. "A lot of Pa-O folks want to support the National League for Democracy because they think this is the political group that could really make a difference for us," he said.
Says he would like to support the NLD because he thinks in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, but he is too scared. Elsewhere in the state, constituents have said they are under pressure from the other big ethnical Pa-O political group - the Pa-O National Partie. The relations between the two Pa-O factions and their relations with the dominant USDP remain vague, even among those who have followed Shan State's ethnical policies well.
In 2012, the heads of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization officially sealed a cease-fire with the army. From that time on, the group, together with several associated militias, has largely supported the Tatmadaw and the USDP. Pa-O parliamentarians - whether with the USDP or one of the two ethnical political groups - are widely likely to support the army and the USDP in the country's legislature.
The PNO won several places without opposition in 2010 because the USDP did not record any nominees against it. The USDP leadership in Taunggyi this year is apparently trying to point out that they are raising nominees against the Pa-O party in some areas.
A number of people have proposed that the USDP has approached the UPNO, which signed up after the 2012 by-elections. However, the participants of the two Pa-O political groups also seem to differ greatly, as some natives claim that one of them has stronger relations to the ethnical group known as "White Pa-O", while the UPNO has stronger relations to the "Red Pa-O".
One way or another, whether due to the absence of voting information or more powerful means, it seems that for many Pa-O this choice has not permitted them to elect the agents they really want.