The Spook goes Down
covering burma and southeast asia
Saturday, March 23, 2019
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COVER STORY

The Spook goes Down


By Bruce Hawke OCTOBER, 2004 - VOLUME 12 NO.9


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The fall of Asia’s longest-serving intelligence chief.

 

General Khin Nyunt, the chief of the Office of Military Intelligence, or OCMI, and since August last year prime minister of Burma, took a day off from his hectic schedule of public engagements to celebrate his 65th birthday on October 11. Seven days hence he was going to have a lot more free time.

 

On Monday, October 18 at some time before lunch Khin Nyunt was detained in Mandalay where he was on an official visit. At about 18:00 the Office of the Chief of Military Intelligence, or OCMI, headquarters at Eight-mile Junction, Rangoon was raided by Burma Army personnel. Some time after 20:00 Khin Nyunt arrived at Mingaladon Airport where he was met by Defense Services Chief of Staff and Coordinator of Special Operations (Army, Navy and Air) Gen Thura Shwe Mann.

 

 

Shwe Mann accompanied the deposed prime minister to his office at the OCMI building where he was told to hand over his pistol and his radio. The 20-year reign of Asia’s longest-serving intelligence chief was over.

 

The next day news of the palace coup was broken by Thai government spokesman Jakrapop Penkair, who said Khin Nyunt had been deposed for corruption. That evening Myanmar Television news confirmed that the State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC, had permitted the prime minister to resign on “health grounds with effect from today” and that in his place Lt-Gen Soe Win had been appointed PM. Up to that time, Soe Win had been Secretary-1 of the SPDC.

 

According to various Rangoon sources, Khin Nyunt’s wife Khin Win Shwe, daughter Thin Le Le Win, and sons Maj Zaw Naing Oo (44th Light Infantry Battalion, headquartered in Thayet, Magwe Division) and Ye Naing Win, an entrepreneur who ran the country’s only Internet server, were also detained.

 

It is unlikely that the deposed PM is under house arrest at his home. Until Monday, October 18 he shared a residential compound at Eight-mile Junction with, among others, Sr-Gen Than Shwe and Deputy Sr-Gen Maung Aye, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the SPDC, respectively. The housing estate backs onto a War Office compound. Basic security concerns would require Khin Nyunt and his family be somewhere off-site. Those concerns would also have dictated that his power base be shut down.

 

The Friday evening news on October 22 announced that the SPDC had repealed the 1983 National Intelligence Bureau Law and dissolved the National Intelligence Bureau. The coup had become a route. The spook apparatus appears to have been made inoperative.

 

Five of the seven Heads of Department at OCMI are reportedly under some form of detention, including Brig-Gen Myint Aung Zaw (Administration), Brig-Gen Hla Aung (Training), Brig-Gen Kyaw Han (Science and Technology), Brig-Gen Than Tun (Politics and Counter Intelligence) and Brig-Gen Myint Zaw (Border Security and Intelligence). OCMI posts nationwide have been shut down or commandeered by regular army officers, while intelligence staffers down to the rank of major have been told not to stray far from home.



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