Myanmar: campaigning against a "living saint"


Soe Min, a candidate with Myanmar's ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, is running in an April 1 election against pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.



All the renewed buzz around Myanmar's most famous Nobel Laureate and dissident-in-chief, Aung San Suu Kyi, has obscured the fact that someone actually has to run against her for elections slated for this Sunday.

That man is U Soe Min, a former doctor with Myanmar's reviled military.

He was recently interviewed by Reuters journalist Andrew R.C. Marshall, who ascertained from Soe Min his strategy for competing against a woman Marshall describes as a "living saint."

The campaigning doctor's strategy? He highlights her "weak point," i.e., her time abroad. This is a somewhat odd critique given that, since 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi has remained inside the country. Many of those years were spent under government-imposed house arrest.

Perhaps Soe Min wants to cast her as brainy and out of touch in contrast to Myanmar's struggling laboring class. "She doesn't know the true nature of the country's problems ... she knows more theoretically. I know more practically," he told Reuters.

Or maybe Soe Min is just going through the motions in a campaign he will almost certainly lose.

“I’m not trying to beat her," he told Agence France-Presses in an interview posted to The Myanmar Times site. "I’m just competing for myself."