By Danny Lee
Director, Community Affairs Development, The ASEAN Secretariat


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Ruling Party Candidate rallies in Yangon

In military jargon, it is known as D-1. It is read as Dee minus one. Just one day before D-Day, H-Hour – or eve of the Big Day in civilian speak.

With just one day to go before Myanmar’s landmark by-elections on April 1, excitement moved up another notch. As I am writing this, reliable sources told us the opposition National League for Democracy – the party of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi – is holding a big mobilization rally at the local Elections Office. This morning, the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) team met a campaign convoy of the ruling United Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) about 200 meters from the same spot.

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Opposition Rally in Yangon 7

Along a busy street just 15 minutes from the Chatrium Hotel – where the ASEC Team is staying – print shops are obviously enjoying a windfall from the campaigning. Other than corporate T-shirts of commercial companies, these firms have jumped into the election race, printing party T-shirts to meet the sudden surge for demand for thousands of party supporters from both sides. Even the NLD T-shirts with Ms Suu Kyi’s face on it, were very openly and commonly displayed. This would have been unthinkable not long ago.

The ASEC team had another important task to complete today. To make sure we are “properly sustained” on Sunday, we went shopping for snacks, bottled water, and food-on-the-go like breads. One part of the team had already flown to Mandalay to cover the voting there.

Along the way, we met officials and journalists – all busy preparing for the Big Day. This is history in the making, and no one wanted to miss it. Like everyone else, I’m turning in early for the evening. Tomorrow is a Big Day and we are ready!

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ASEAN Secretariat Team visits township a day ahead of By-Election pix of training session for polling station staff 1