Many hoping democracy brings jobs to Burma

Ko Aye, Khin Marcho
Ko Aye, left, and his wife Khin Marcho
CBS News

(CBS News) RANGOON - History has been made in Burma, one of the most repressed and isolated countries in the world.

On Monday, the military government said the opposition won a landslide victory in Sunday's election. The woman who began the democratic movement in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, is headed to parliament.

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports that Burma may finally be on the road to democracy.

Aung San Suu Kyi looked more like a pop star than a newly elected parliamentarian at her party's headquarters in Rangoon after the election.

"We hope that this is the beginning of a new era where there will be more emphasis on the role of the people in the everyday politics of the country," Suu Kyi said.

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If the results are confirmed, she'd represent the tiny, rural district of Khamu, where most eke out a living farming, many growing rice.

Ko Aye and his wife make a meager $30 per month there. They can't afford a tractor, so tend their crops manually with water buffalo.

"I have six acres of rice fields but the production and the prices are going down," Ko Aye said through a translator. "My life is becoming worse and worse."

The family stopped building a new home because they wanted to use the money to keep their sons in school. Their electricity comes from a car battery and their only decoration - next to Buddha - is a calendar with a picture of "the Lady," as Suu Kyi known. Her election has given many hope.

"If something changes, if politics change, than maybe my life can change for the better," Ko Aye said.

In Burma, politicians can choose which region they'd like to represent, and Aung San Suu Kyi picked this one in part because of the ethnic Karean minority which lives here. It's a symbolic way of unifying this diverse country.

Ko Aye and much of his extended family wondered if a new government could spark development.

"We expect improvements in our village - like industries," he said.

With other jobs, his sons could have a future that's not farming. There are high hopes for democracy here - some that seem more like dreams.

"Our lives will get easier," said Khin Marcho, Ko Aye's wife.