Bedtime Reading for the Generals
covering burma and southeast asia
Saturday, March 23, 2019


Bedtime Reading for the Generals

By Aung Zaw AUG, 2004 - VOLUME 12 NO.8


Why are Khin Nyunt & Co scared to sleep at home?


Chances are high that the Burmese intelligence chief, Gen Khin Nyunt, is sleeping in his office tonight. He won’t be alone—several high-ranking members of the regime have made the War Office in Rangoon their second home since the country was rocked by pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988.


When the generals staged their bloody coup in 1988, one of their objectives was to restore law and order.


Today, the military leaders proudly claim to have restored peace and tranquility in the country. But this is only partly true—paradoxically they need to maintain an unofficial but visible “state of emergency”. And if that means sleeping at the War Office—well, so be it.



Khin Nyunt once told the semi-official newspaper Myanmar Times that he has been sleeping in the office for many years. Even if his wife and family complain, he has several regime colleagues for company.


“They still are paranoid and they cannot remove the mentality of being under siege,” commented one Asian journalist who was in Rangoon recently.


The War Office became the generals’ second home when martial law and a nationwide state of emergency were declared in 1988. Rangoon was designated a “war zone” as regime forces brutally suppressed demonstrators who took to the capital’s streets.


Living conditions at the War Office aren’t exactly spartan. “The place is like a five-star hotel,” according to one source.


The generals’ wives don’t seem to be too unhappy about the arrangement. Many take advantage of their menfolk’s absence by taking shopping trips to Bangkok and Singapore.


One reason for staying over at the office would appear to be the dangers the generals and their staff evidently fear they face when traveling to and from their homes.


Top generals are always heavily guarded by an escort of vehicles manned by armed troops.

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