Unmasking Than Shwe
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Interview

Unmasking Than Shwe


By SIMON ROUGHNEEN Thursday, July 1, 2010


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If more was done by the international community to ensure that  defectors could have place of safety, then more defections would happen and more information would come out.
 
Q. What specifically are the issues,  challenges and dilemmas for a potential defector as he or she weighs-up such a momentous decision?
 
A. Thailand and other neighbors have an agreement with the regime to return any Burmese soldiers or officers they find, and this makes any defector vulnerable to deportation, and the consequences once he or she is returned to Burma. Otherwise, defectors who come out and are outspoken face attack, assassination or can be disappeared by agents of the  regime, for examples in places like Mae Sot near the Thai-Burma border. Another barrier is the attitude of the international community, which has a more complex approach to defectors than other asylum seekers, and countries are generally much more reluctant to accept defectors. Strangely though, when people defect through embassies, it seems to be much easier than if some one tries to defect through Thailand for example.
 
Q. Than Shwe seems to be trying to re-brand his regime with allusions or references to Burma's ancient kings and kingdoms, hinting at his own supposed links to a mythologized past. Is Than Shwe a reincarnation of Burma's long-dead kings?
 
A. Than Shwe sees himself as a sort of warrior-king, a modern version of those figures from Burma's history. For example, Burma's kings liked to build and establish new capitals for themselves, something that he has replicated by building a new capital in Naypidaw, which of course means "Seat of Kings" in Burmese. Though of course he has other reasons for building the new capital—be that paranoia about another uprising in Burma, the need to hide military facilities, fear of an attack from a foreign power. As irrational as some of this might be, these are factors in his thinking.
 
Q. Can you tell us more about Than Shwe's psychology of rule? He is rumored to be heavily influenced by astrology and highly superstitious. Is this the case?
 
A. Astrology is a factor, but it conditions his thinking more about the timing of events, the duration of prison sentences, for example, than it is an over-arching or guiding principle. Certain events are timed to run on given auspicious dates, but that does not mean that Than Shwe is merely a crazed superstitious tyrant, and we must not fall into the trap of stereotyping him or underestimating him. He is brutally clever and adept at divide and rule. Astrology is arguably more important in his wife's way of thinking than in his own.
 
Q. How strong an influence is his wife on him personally and politically? Is she a Lady Macbeth figure or is that an overstatement?
 
A. First, the limitations of how close I could get to Than Shwe come into play here. I wasn't a fly on the wall in their home, and that is an understatement! But she does have some influence, particularly when it comes to Aung San Suu Kyi. Daw Kyaing Kyaing dislikes her as much, if not more, than her husband.
 
Q. Can you tell us more about that dislike? Is it personal, political, or a mixture?
 
A. It is a combination. Politically she represents a challenge to Than Shwe, who sees himself as the elderly father figure in ruling his country. She is younger and upsets that patriarchal vision. She is also everything,  frankly, that Daw Kyaing Kyaing is not: she is beautiful, internationally savvy, cultured, well-educated.
 
Q. As well as your role as East Asia specialist with Christian Solidarity Worldwide, you work closely with the Conservative Party in the UK, which recently returned to power. First, has Prime Minister David Cameron or Foreign Secretary William Hague read your book? Secondly, how do you hope it will influence policy in the UK and internationally.
 
A.


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Garrett Wrote:
10/07/2010
Wow, plan B is pulling all of the stops in his negative "review?" of this book about his hero, the mysterious, reclusive, brutal, misunderstood, superstitious, power-mad and megalomaniacal dictator of Burma, Than Shwe, which he has not even read.

These four posts (so far) attacking Benedict Rogers have reached the level of a parody of a stereotypical regime mouthpiece in the haughty tradition of Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, better known as "Baghdad Bob".

Dear Readers, you can find many interviews of Benedict Rogers discussing his upcoming book online by Googling his name, or the title of the book. You can also find many articles about Burma which he has written in major newspapers and online media outlets.

Just as we are able to judge plan B's agenda by what he stands for, & what he has written here at the Irrawaddy, we should also judge Benedict Rogers by what he stands for, & what he has written & published, instead of the baseless negative comments of plan B aka "Burma Bob".

plan B Wrote:
09/07/2010
"Let’s do whatever best things you can in your own capacity."
I absolutely disagree!
Roger Benedict must be held to a higher standard in responsibilities:
Especially when a country's plight is involved.
1)Doing it for profit even though substantiated claim of benefiting Myanmar is lacking.
2)Misleading facts that justify continuing present policies by the west and everyone here, who have no stake what so ever, continue to espoused.
Until Benedict Rogers come clean on just two simple initial observations he is what he is.
A charlatan who can write.
A cold comfort to know that he is no longer called "a Myanmar Expert".

plan B Wrote:
06/07/2010
Kudos to the Irrawaddy
The beauty of this interview itself brought forth how hopeless the nature of this debate between the need to change the west's perceptions of Myanmar and those who don't care and wish not to.
For fear of:
1)Losing all the advantages be it material or otherwise that they have so enjoyed?
2)Worse, being exposed as an absolute ignorant fraud.
"There, understandably, may be a lot of blanks in the composition, but the events and deductives Mr. Benedict Rogers has spoken of in the interview are essentially correct. The views are balanced and reasonable."
The standard by which Man Fridays hold their White master Crusoe to is indeed high.
Let see how high this book climbs in the New York best selling list.
Under category of "Burmese History"
Sub categorized under "hearsay" or "tragedy"?



MING Wrote:
05/07/2010

As in Buddhist scripture, those DOERS will have their own tomorrows sinking in their own Awizi-hell for their own sake after their days. Sufferers, are paying back for their old debts, old karma we might have owed to them in the past.

Let’s do whatever best things you can in your own capacity.

PB Publico Wrote:
04/07/2010
You know when you throw a pressurzed ball at a wall it bounces back to you. Another story has it that the spit you blow out with your face looking up falls back on your face. Still another story has it that, if you slander a popular personality, you miss the taget and get yourself the backlash of dirtier slanders and gossip.
The best of all: the Buddha had said in answer to a question that if some guest comes and brings to you some gifts that are you do not want to accept, it is only proper not to accept what is given, then the giver of those gifts must take them back, because they belong to him.

Well, I am sure while most of Daw ASSK's great crowds of supporters may be angry at whoever uses abusive words and slanders aimed at her, her reaction would be to follow the Buddha's advice and will give the gifts back to the giver.

plan B Wrote:
04/07/2010
Mr Roger:
Some very simple questions:
1)Your pure endeavor to enlighten the west to the nature of Than Shwe contribute in anyway to lessen the suffering of the most vulnerable?
2)Please do point to any evidence?
3)If not,are you still pretending to be championing for the real sufferings of the every day citizenry of Myanmar like other none native here in The Irrawaddy?
4)Does another well known ardent anti SPDC westerner Litner's "favorable review" mean you are fair?
5) Are yo going to donate the profit to a worthy cause you profess to champion?

To be fair let's give Mr Roger a low pass opportunity which he has never offered to anyone of the sufferings citizenry of Myanmar that his fraud has caused:

6)Mr Roger does it make sense to deal with a character you so denigrated repeatedly, especially now that this character, Than Shwe is transformed to an entity that require your additional "Unmasking"?

The low pass hints:
Only #5&#6 are yes.

Myanmar Patriot 4 UMPF Wrote:
03/07/2010
Has Venus gone bonkers? To have this British non-entity's book in Burmese library.
How can an insignificant christian neo-colonist know anything about the life of Sen.Gen Thanshwe?

If the book were written by a Burmese, it would be completely ignored; such is the slave mentality of some Burmese people, particularly in search of asylum in a rich Western country. We know their mentality.
Venus talked of ANARCHY..Anarchy is complete absence of law and order, absence of state;everyone for himself.Situation in Burma is complete opposite;repression and total control by the military.Did the girl know that 3,000,000 people were slaughtered in Congo, a former Belgium colony;Lumanba assassinated 1960.

And what Rwanda? Million killed for absence of single unified authority, single army.
It is so very sad to see so many ignorant Burmese displaying their ignorance of the nature of politics so publicly. do study politics, history and economic seriosuly, Venus.

PB Publico Wrote:
03/07/2010
I haven't seen the book. But it sounds good,
There, understandably, may be a lot of blanks in the composition, but the events and deductives Mr. Benedict Rogers has spoken of in the interview are essentially correct. The views are balanced and reasonable.

Congratulations Mr. Rogers.

mimikhar Wrote:
03/07/2010
Great ! Ben ..
I appreciate you . You love Burma, You understand our country hardship and care, support for who needs.

You do your best.

Thank you dear Ben.. God Bless

Garrett Wrote:
03/07/2010
Congratulations Benedict on “Than Shwe: Unmasking Burma's Tyrant”.

At my son's request prior to my 1st trip to Thailand, I bought your book "A Land Without Evil." I started reading it at the airport in L.A. and finished it on the flight to Chiangmai.

The book provided me a clear understanding of modern Burmese history, as well as a good basis of understanding the roots of the Burmese ethnic minority struggles since Burma's independence.

I found out later that my son had arranged for us to have dinner with Free Burma Rangers co-founder Tha-U-Wah-A-Pah the next night, and having read the book made it possible to have a meaningful conversation about his work.

While living & working in a Karen village near the Thai/Burma border I used the book to educate foreign visitors, and ended up leaving the book there when I left.

If “Than Shwe: Unmasking Burma's Tyrant” is half as informative as "A Land Without Evil", it is a must-read book for anyone wishing to understand Burma's Brutal Dictator.

Ursus Wrote:
02/07/2010
Dr.Myo.THI-HA

First, this interview is about dictator Than Shwe and not about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Second if you want to talk about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi then please tell the truth. It is a fact that she is still widely accepted by the majority of the Burmese and even by various ethnic minorities. She is a symbol for democracy and peace.



plan B Wrote:
02/07/2010
Got to give Benedict Roger for trying.
But trying for what?
Unmasking?

If you wish to know a family you must need to be among the members! Anything short of that fact will not be compensated by any lame disclaimer of any kind.

Benedict Roger outright admission of dignifying "Hear says" says it all.
A fraud when it come to exposing the odds the west face in dealing with SPDC.
A pure opportunist in the same vein as Turnell.

Less harmful maybe. Who can say which is better given the amount of harms these white "Myanmar Experts" have bequeathed on Myanmar citizenry through the frauds that they pander for fame and fortune!

There is numerous murals for these panderers of frauds' fate, similar to the SPDC. In the hall ways of Myanmar Monasteries and Pagodas.
You can choke on this "Unmasking" one Benedict Roger.

Venus Wrote:
02/07/2010
That sounds interesting history book for library collection in Burmese Achieve for future generations in centuries.

In this anarchic world , Burma as a state of complete anarchy is absolutely help-less. We can do nothing but a “self-help” to encounter our own karma. As in Buddhist scripture, those DOERS will have their own tomorrows sinking in their own Awizi-hell for their own sake after their days. We, sufferers, are paying back our old debts, old karma we might have owed to them in the past.

Let’s do whatever best things we can in our own capacity. There is nothing except ANARCHY ; nothing except SELF_HELP.

Free Man Wrote:
01/07/2010
"The only thing holding back many potential defectors is the insecurity of their position in neighboring countries, particularly Thailand."

Ditto! I believe that there are also SPDC foot soldiers who want to defect. And the question is can we provide them with security and other basic necessities for them to defect? The intnerational community and pro-democracy forces should help ethnic armies to receive defectors.

"We have to remain aware of the nature of the man who rules Burma, and his unwillingness to listen to reason."

Ditto! And I think this is clear to everyone with a reasoning mind that TS is unwilling to listen to reason.

Dr.Myo.THI-HA Wrote:
01/07/2010
Thanks for the point of view from foreigner.

His comments and answers absolutely do not reflect to the real life of Myanmar people.

In Myanmar true history, Aung San Suu Kyi is the worst person who is unable to be accepted by 60M Myanmar people. We can only let her to stay as typical British housewife. She has too much influences from British culture, conservative way of thinking, underminded to Myanmar people, considered herself be proud of as British citizenship instead of real Myanmar.

Actually Suu Kyi is a complicated and hopedead person (by confusing herself)for Myanmar people. She is not reasonable and reliable person for NLD party & members. She always act what she wants, without the democracy practices. She is same as N.Korea Kim Jung II. Same.

Once she decided not to enter the election, her image and role in puplic were already destroyed by herslf (not by Than Shwe). No one believes her any more. Some express. But somes start thinking what is Suu Kyi?


George Than Setkyar Heine Wrote:
01/07/2010
"But in the international community we have to be clear that it offers no hope for change".

That sums up all I say! And writing own biographies only at this juncture and time would not serve Burma's cause much less bring freedom and democracy to the country.
Like we used to say 'one grows quick - during the night or day - when raised by a master'.

There are still 50 million plus stories to tell in Burma. And Than Shwe's story is not finished yet. Of course he is still making his own story and we cannot draw any conclusions as yet.

We can applaud or condemn a person only when he/she hits the grave as I believed.

However, letting Than Shwe to run rampant and at random like today bares UK, UN, US led international community's DERELICTION of DUTY on the people of Burma no less.
Hence, Burma's freedom and democracy rest only in the hands of the people.

Like they say FREEDOM IS NOT FREE we will have to fight and sacrifice for our freedom and democracy at this juncture and time I say.

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