YANGON (Reuters) - As Myanmar prepares for a general election next week, an opposition politician has found a new way of connecting with voters facing novel coronavirus restrictions and getting her message out.
Han Oo Khin, a candidate for the People’s Pioneer Party (PPP), has been criss-crossing her constituency in the commercial capital of Yangon for more than a month with a truck selling affordable groceries ranging from eggs to onions and noodles.
The Thingangyun township is one of the areas worst affected by the coronavirus so 34-year-old Han Oo Khin, who is an advertising entrepreneur, believes her mobile market stall will help people get their shopping and help her win some votes.
“It’s like killing two birds with one stone,” said Han, speaking beside the truck, which carries a big poster of her on the back, as her supporters handed out leaflets along with groceries to a cluster of shoppers.
“It assists the grassroots people in my township and on the other hand, it introduces my party and me to the public.”
Han reckons the truck has helped her make contact with thousands of people in her constituency, where there are 180,000 voters due to cast ballots on Sunday, when Myanmar holds its second general election since the end of strict military rule.
With more than 50,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,200 deaths, Myanmar is facing one of Southeast Asia’s worst outbreaks of the virus and election campaigning across the country has been hit by curbs on movements and gatherings.
The PPP is one of several new political parties emerging to challenge the popularity of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi’s party is widely expected to win but smaller parties say they see opportunities with her support chipped away by growing ethnic conflict in some areas and a sluggish economy.
The PPP is headed by a former member of parliament from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy who was expelled from the party for criticising it over various issues.
Han has no illusions the PPP can defeat the ruling party but she’s looking long term and plans to keep operating the grocery truck to help build her party’s image and her profile.
“We’ll keep serving the people to prepare for the 2025 election,” she said.
Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Robert Birsel
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.