The most dangerous place is the safest. Never have this saying come closer to being true since the beginning of time until a couple of days ago in Myanmar.
General election is coming up on November 8th regardless of the pandemic which has affected Yangon at a worrying rate. There is an even larger risk of a different yet worse kind of suffocation if, God forbid, the election was postponed indefinitely. As things stand now, it’s still on. Nearly one hundred political parties are expected to compete for more than 1,100 seats in Union, State & Region parliaments- most of them have been campaigning, lobbying actively via social media platforms. People have also been checking voter lists and staying excited as they can be under the given circumstances.
When Union Election Committee announced the list of running parties and the number of seats each would be competing for, one party caught media’s attention; which was called “United Democratic Party-UDP”. People call it “Rose Party” in reference to its rose logo which seemed like a picture downloaded directly from the first page of Google image search. However, the quality of the logo was not the talking point in its instant media coverage. The reason it caught attention was because the party would be competing for the second highest number of seats behind the National League for Democracy (NLD). Naturally, one would expect Union Solidary Development Party (USDP) to come close-second in the race in terms of participants (not in votes) but it had not been the case.
And nobody had heard of this Rose party before.
A political party led by ethnical repatriate who seemed to have too much money at his disposal?
Here we go.
Myanmar Now Media took upon themselves to get behind this party and the chairman. A couple of weeks later, they reported that Kyaw Myint, the chairman of UDP, who used to work for Chinese-backed armed group, had been jailed for numerous cases back in 1990s (at least one being involved with money laundering) and after 10 months behind the wall, he escaped in a Hollywood fashion where he pretended to be sick and ran during hospital visit. He fled the country, pled asylum to the US and moved to Canada where he made a fortune by insider trading and later fined $1.5m for the very crime. He started the Rose party in 2007 when he was still in Canada, came back to the country in 2013 and been running the party operations since then. His stories were filled with mansions, bodyguards, black money, China ties, armed groups and so on.
In the same universe, the prison chief who was the most responsible authority for Kyaw Myint’s escape served ten years in prison and now living the hard-earned free days as a monk.
How Kyaw Myint managed to escape the land, got back in and planned to participate in the General Election and ultimately lead the country is beyond all of us (Just kidding, we know he paid his way in).
And he nearly succeeded.
However, Myanmar Now got in the way. Brave reporters did all the legwork, investigating Kyaw Myint’s background and reported with concrete evidences while the people in power were idling. And only when it’s completely impossible not to arrest the guy, the action was taken – putting Kyaw Myint back in the same prison which he had escaped more than two decades ago.
It’s not the first time that Myanmar Now has taken over the role of Home Affairs and successfully investigated a number of crime cases that would remain otherwise unsolved and closed at the hands of authorities. Our country used to have only propaganda press during the military junta and it has been merely a decade since “freedom of press” was reintroduced. Thus, the country has limited experience in witnessing objective journalism, especially in the investigative department. However, Myanmar Now has done a brilliant job in establishing itself as a trustworthy media during the recent years by investigating & reporting several quality pieces in the best interest of general public. And the team has done a brilliant job again in this case. Yet, it’s not the safest job in the world when you are exposing a fraud who’s known for traveling with a presidential-like parade and billion of money at stake.
Logically, one would not expect someone who had escaped a prison coming back to the same land, let alone trying to run for the office. But somehow, Kyaw Myint did come back with a plan, a master plan. To hide right in front of the law. The Rose party, thorny yet not the cutest.
And thankfully he has been exposed.
The most dangerous place is the safest? Not anymore.