New Rumors of Ill Health in Burma’s Top Family
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New Rumors of Ill Health in Burma’s Top Family

By Min Lwin Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Reports that relatives of Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his wife have been taken to the regime’s remote capital of Naypyidaw have fueled rumors of serious health problems within the family of Burma’s top general.

For weeks, there has been persistent speculation about the health of Burma’s military supremo and his spouse, both of whom are in their seventies. Than Shwe is known to suffer from hypertension, diabetes and other chronic ailments.

Sources in Singapore have suggested that he may have cancer, although there has been no independent confirmation of this.

A year ago, Than Shwe traveled to Singapore to receive medical treatment. When he failed to attend a state dinner to mark Burma’s Independence Day last January, rumors were rife that his health had taken a serious turn for the worse.

More recently, however, observers have noted that he seems to be in reasonably good health for his age. One Western diplomat who has seen him in public described his condition as “disappointingly healthy.”

According to a Burmese journalist in Rangoon, however, Than Shwe’s wife, Kyaing Kyaing, may not be doing so well. This year, it was her turn to miss the Independence Day dinner, lending credence to reports that she may have suffered a stroke recently.

Rumors of serious health problems within the ruling clan were given fresh impetus last December, when Dr Mi Mi Cho, a famous neurological specialist from Rangoon, was taken to Naypyidaw to treat an unspecified relative of one of the top generals.

Since Than Shwe ordered a bloody crackdown on protesting monks in September, many Burmese have been looking for signs of ill health in the ruling family. Some Burmese Buddhists regard such health problems to be a natural karmic consequence of attacks on the revered clergy.

A similar fate supposedly befell Snr-Gen Saw Maung, former chairman of the ruling junta, who suffered a mental breakdown in 1990, shortly after his regime arrested several leading monks and raided 130 monasteries in Mandalay. He stepped down due to illness in 1992, and died of a heart attack five years later.

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