Naing Ngan Lin is a member of the Yangon regional parliament for the National League for Democracy (NLD). In 2006 he graduated in Politics and Government from the UK’s Open University. During the 2015 election campaign he suffered severe injuries when he and his colleagues were attacked.
I was born in Thaton Township in Mon State. I moved to Yangon when I was about three years old. I still live in Yangon with my wife, our son and my parents-in-law.
My parents have long been members of the National League for Democracy (NLD). They used to work at the NLD office, and would send promising young members to the American Centre and the British Council to learn English. Soon I got the chance to attend English classes at the British Council.
It was the first time I had met native English teachers and it was hard at first. But my English improved enough to join the Open University programme run through the British Council, which I later heard had been requested by A May Su (Daw Aung San Suu Kyi). It was a great course.
I graduated in Politics and Government from the Open University in 2006. In our final year our teachers asked our opinion of the programme and whether it should be extended. We gave a lot of positive feedback and said that if it could be extended it would have great advantages for Myanmar. I think there were three more batches.
Prison gave me the chance to learn more about politics. It taught me what was possible.
After graduation I met my life partner. We got married and we have one son. I went to live with my wife’s parents in Dawbone township, Yangon. They have been a wonderful support, cooking for us and never complaining about what we do.
June to September each year was the period of most protests against the government. I became actively involved in politics during the ‘Saffron Revolution’ of 2007. Students were arrested for demonstrating during the visit of UN Special Adviser Gambari in 2008. My wife was one of them. I was arrested the following year and spent two months in prison.
Prison gave me the chance to learn more about politics. From being interrogated I learnt what others were doing, who was working with who and the kind of people I could associate with. It helped me understand what we were dealing with, and taught me what was possible.
I believe in the value of hard work. I grew up poor. In my classes at the British Council, I found listening to be the most difficult skill.
After I was released I set up the United Front of Myanmar Activists for Democracy, an association for different groups working towards the same aim. It started with just four groups but later rose to eleven.
Then after A May Su was released, she called on me to work with the NLD. With her guidance I founded the Togetherness Free Education Network for Youth and, later, the Health Network. In 2012, I was proud to be elected as a Member of Parliament for the NLD.
From then until the elections in November 2015 I was appointed to the national parliament in Naypyitaw. People from my constituency would come and tell me their problems. I heard a lot about people being arrested in their homes at night for not having the right papers. I tried to help them.
In 2015 I stood for the Yangon regional parliament with my colleagues Ko Phyo Min Thein and Ma Sandar Min. All three of us were elected and I think we have the right experience to bring to the regional assembly.
I believe that at the regional level, government must have authority to act. We need to establish a more federal structure. Looking at the constitution one can’t say we don’t have the authority to act at the regional level. But nobody has ever taken responsibility for this.
I believe in the value of hard work. I grew up poor. In my classes at the British Council, I found listening to be the most difficult skill. I put double the effort into my studies at the British Council. The Open University programme was also really difficult but I worked hard to complete it.
As an MP I have many hopes and dreams for my country. I am the secretary of the committee governing the national peace process. I believe that for a strong country we must have both peace and federalism. To achieve federalism we need peace, and vice versa.
I also believe in youth, as the next generation will lead our country one day. I want to encourage our young people to be strong and shine like stars. I have always followed what I believe in, and so I do not expect too much from my son. I want him to do what he wants and will support him whatever that is.
I had never taken much care of my health but being stabbed made me realise how important it is. It took me a long time to recover.
I would like to give the following advice to our young people. One, manage well what you possess. Two, work hard. Three, learn as much as you can and apply it. And four, the most important, take care of your health. When the time comes to work for your country, you must be healthy and strong. If you are not, then everything you have learnt will be useless.
This is what I learnt when I was assaulted during the 2015 election campaign. I had never taken much care of my health but being stabbed made me realise how important it is. It took me a long time to recover. Even when I recovered physically I still had problems mentally. I couldn’t sleep at night and still get headaches. So I urge young people to eat and sleep well, and take care of themselves.