Trump scores support from two in Myanmar
Speaking up at the last minute before Americans head to the polls tomorrow, U Hla Swe and U Wirathu have weighed in with their endorsement of Donald Trump for US president.
WITH one day left until Americans head to the polls in a US presidential election that has drawn unprecedented global attention, two controversial figures in Myanmar have weighed in to endorse an equally contentious nominee: Donald Trump.
U Wirathu, a firebrand monk based in Mandalay who has been a leading figure of the Buddhist nationalist movement in recent years, wrote on his Facebook page yesterday, “We Stand With DONALD TRUMP.”
More than 1000 Facebook users had reacted to the post as of yesterday evening, with dozens of people commenting. Several joined U Wirathu in expressing support for Mr Trump, while others were against the controversial billionaire, whose improbably rise as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee has shattered conventional political wisdom – and made many world leaders fearful.
“We are Donald Trump,” read one comment under U Wirathu’s post.
Meanwhile, a prominent former lawmaker also known for cavalier provocations and less-than-tolerant rhetoric, U Hla Swe, told The Myanmar Times that he too liked the cut of Mr Trump’s jib.
“Trump is a nationalist so he is Republican and I support him. It is not that I expect Trump will help Myanmar. I just like his stance,” said U Hla Swe, who previously served as an MP for the Union Solidarity and Development Party.
Since losing his re-election bid in November 2015, U Hla Swe has kept a place in the public eye as publisher and editor of Bullet News Journal. The former lawmaker earned the moniker “Bullet” Hla Swe after he suggested to fellow MPs that if ethnic armed groups did not agree to drop their weapons in favour of negotiation, the government would instead use bullets on them.
“Actually, I think the American election doesn’t really affect Myanmar. And only political parties in Myanmar have interest in that, the public doesn’t,” U Hla Swe said yesterday when asked about his views on the presidential race.
“Donald Trump is the American Ma Ba Tha,” he wrote on Facebook yesterday following an interview with BBC Burmese.
“Our party first of all prioritises nationalism because according to our country’s situation, we need to favour nationalism. Democracy and human rights should be [prioritised] second, given our country’s geopolitics,” U Hla Swe said, adding that most fellow USDP members he had spoken to similarly preferred Mr Trump for his nationalism-first approach.
“I have never heard him mention Myanmar. But he is a nationalist so he will get along with the parties who prioritise nationalism,” he said.
Mr Trump, whose views on Myanmar are little-known, is facing an uphill battle to win the presidency if pre-election polling is to be believed.
His Democratic opponent, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, has struck up a personal friendship with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms Clinton was instrumental in a change to US foreign policy toward Myanmar that favoured “calibrated engagement” with the former USDP government as it signalled openness to democratic reforms when it took power in 2011.
She was a proponent of US President Barack Obama’s broader “pivot” to Asia, which his administration put forward after taking office in 2009.