Voters hoping for new chapter in Myanmar's history

Voters in Yangon are excited over the general election today, prepared to cast their ballots with the full hope that their votes will bring change to this once-isolated country.

Ask any eligible voter here if they are going to a polling booth today and you will most likely get the answer "yes", which should mean a voter turnout of about 80 per cent.

"I will definitely go to the polling station and vote for the party which I think can do its best for the country," said Lwin Zaw, 42, a taxi driver who lives in Sanchaung Township.

Chaw Su Hlaing, 31, a tutor at a private school, topped up his cellphone to ensure uninterrupted Internet connection so that he can get social media updates. His full attention will also be paid to TV and radio news to keep abreast of possible fraud and vote rigging.

"I really hope there will be many changes. My dream will come true this time."

"It is such a rare chance for the people of Myanmar," he said. "Each and every citizen should not miss such a good opportunity. Otherwise, we need to wait another five years for the change."

Heading to the polling stations, voters are hoping for a free and fair election like the authorities promised so that it will set Myanmar on a new path.

Erick Oo, director of public relations firm The Blink Agency, hopes the election will bring about a new chapter for the country.

Thida Linn, a translator living in Yankin Township, hopes the election will bring about changes. This is despite her fear that cheating will happen in the election and the poll may not lead to the country's future being shaped in the way most people anticipate.

Lwin Zaw said: "I believe things will be better after the election, if the results really reflect the people's desires and inspirations. Hopefully, Myanmar can reach to the next level under the guidance of a new, outstanding leader. This is not only my personal feeling but also that of all the citizens, I believe."

Chaw Su Hlaing said: "We have been isolated for many years, but this time we have the chance to change Myanmar and to integrate with the international community. Everyone is keeping an eye on the election, so we hope the election will be more transparent than the 2010 election."

Voters have done their homework on the candidates. Many young voters like Chaw Su Hlaing are cheering for the National League for Democracy because of their love for its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Over 6,000 politicians from 92 parties will contest the ballot. The most famous is undoubtedly Suu Kyi, who will attract huge attention as she casts a ballot in Kawhmu township this morning.

But the results will not be known for days.