NLD 'Guardian' U Lwin Dies Aged 88
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NLD 'Guardian' U Lwin Dies Aged 88

By WAI MOE Wednesday, December 7, 2011

U Lwin passed away in Rangoon on Tuesday aged 88. (Photo: Irrawaddy)

A prominent leader of the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and former deputy prime minister of the Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) regime, ex-Col U Lwin passed away in Rangoon on Tuesday evening aged 88.

U Lwin was born in 1924 and joined the Burma Independence Army (BIA) in 1942 during World War II. He attended the first intake of officer training for the replacement Burma Defense Army (BDA) that was organized by the occupying Japanese, and he later attended Japan’s Royal Military Academy.

After the war, U Lwin joined Burma Rifle-5 of the Burma Army and served in the anti-insurgency and anti-Kuomintang campaigns of the late 1940s and early 1950s post-independence era.

In 1952, U Lwin traveled to England for further military training before being appointed Burmese military attaché to Washington in 1959.

Following the 1962 military coup led by late dictator Gen Ne Win, U Lwin became deputy- commander of the Central Regional Military Command, then in Mandalay, and later was made commander of Rangoon Regional Military Command.

U Lwin served as Minister for Finance and Revenue and then as a deputy prime minister within the BSPP regime before being forced to retire by Ne Win.

When the NLD formed following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, U Lwin joined as a member of the Patriotic Old Comrades League—one of three founding factions of the main opposition party.

U Lwin served as party treasurer during the early days of the NLD, and was elected representative for Thongwa Township constituency-1 of Rangoon Division in the 1990 elections.

In 1991, U Lwin served as party secretary alongside chairman Aung Shwe during a difficult period when the Burmese junta put heavy pressured on the NLD to expel imprisoned chairman Tin Oo and general secretary Aung San Suu Kyi.

After Suu Kyi was released from her first six-year house arrest term in 1995, the pro-democracy icon resumed her position as NLD general secretary while U Lwin served as secretary and party spokesman.

Following the Depayin massacre—the brutal ambush on Suu Kyi’s convey in Depayin Township of Sagaing Division in May 2003—U Lwin joined other prominent NLD members under house arrest until April 2004. It was the second time he was under house arrest with the first being in the year 2000.

U Lwin's position as party spokesman did not make life easy for himself or the media he addressed. He was controversial and will be remembered for impatiently scolding journalists—particularly those from foreign-based shortwave radio station such as Radio Free Asia, the BBC and VOA.

In March 2010, U Lwin and party chairman Aung Shwe, 94, retired from day-to-day responsibilities due to health concerns.

After Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest in November 2010, she visited both U Lwin and Aung Shwe to pay respect according to Buddhist tradition.

Suu Kyi also visited U Lwin’s house on Wednesday morning for her old friend's funeral ceremony. Suu Kyi once described U Lwin and Aung Shwe as “guardians” of the NLD's survival while the party was under fierce pressure and threats from the authorities.

“U Lwin was a good and honesty solider for Burma,” Chan Tun, a veteran politician and former Burmese ambassador to China and North Korea, told The Irrawaddy.

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Chit Ko Ko Wrote:
I would like to share sadness and would also like to pay my Genuine Tribute & Salute to this respected old war and political veteran uncle U Lwin. Ma Su & Ko Po, pls accept our deepest health felt condolences in this hard time. Yu Yu & U Chit, UNICEF, Taunggyi , SSS.

Thet Lwin Wrote:
To Uncle U Lwin' family,
Please accept my condolence .

Myo Chit (C) Wrote:
3. When he was meeting the public meeting as candidate for the first BSPP election when he was no longer there. He then said " I have been in this region as a commander. Judge me not by my position in the party, but by my performance as a public servant, and your opinion on my personal qualities"
I shivered on hearing such words from him. I have never heard of such words from a politician.
Once I wrote a comment on some journalists who put politicians into tight corner by their stupid questions.

charlotte Wrote:
My thoughts are with U Lwin's family, colleagues and friends.

Myo Chit (C) Wrote:
2. A basket of goodies was sent to my home once by his wife who came from an elite family in Rgn(personal friends). When I called her to say thank you, and we should be the doing this. Her reply was - " Baking is my hobby I learned in US while Ko Lwin was a Military Attache. We do this to other civil servants as well who are doing a good job. Their performance reflects that of the govt. that Ko Lwin is representing.
Could you imagine such a word from wife of the Regional Military Commander ?

Myo Chit (C) Wrote:
I will add few anecdotes from personal relationship with U Lwin.
1. When he was posted as the Commander of Southeast Military Region in 1960s he would come to the Regional Hospital in Moulmein in person with, prior appointment, for required medical consultations. Finding the security troops involved for the trip, I told him privately that he could have asked me to to come. His reply was - "If I do that, there will be many high ranking officers taking advantage on you. You could see more needy patients during the time involved for one VIP. After all, we all are public servants.I just want to let my officers understand this"
Could you imagine such a reply from the highest ranking officer of a military command.

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