Intelligence (March 2008)
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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Intelligence (March 2008)

By The Irrawaddy MARCH, 2008 - VOLUME 16 NO.3


Invasion of the Business Snatchers

One son and three brothers-in-law of Maj-Gen Ohn Myint, Burma’s northern military commander, are doing deals with Chinese businessmen under the name of Myitkyina-based Aung Mai Co Ltd, the largest business in Kachin State, according to a source close to the company.

The four relatives of Ohn Myint are using the Aung Mai Co Ltd name to find partners to engage in logging, gold mining and fuel and merchandise trading operations, according to the source. The owner of Aung Mai Co Ltd, Chinese businessman Tu Aung, was not believed to be receiving any profits from deals being made under his company’s name.

The company’s owner was said to be unhappy with the situation, but remained silent—partly out of fear of the influence of Ohn Myint, but also because Aung Mai Co Ltd has risen to its preeminent position since its founding in 1996 largely thanks to the support of the powerful military commander.

Exiled Opposition Leaders on Junta Hit List?

About 16 prominent opposition leaders in exile are believed to be on a Burmese military government hit list, according to opposition sources. Leaders of ethnic armed groups and pro-democracy organizations, especially those based in Mae Sot, are on the list, said sources.

DKBA troops march in a parade. (Photo: Shah Paung/The Irrawaddy)
Targeted persons are believed to include: Naing Aung of the Forum for Democracy in Burma; Tate Naing and Bo Kyi of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma); Htay Aung, a researcher for the Network for Democracy and Development; Kyaw Kyaw, of the Political Defiance Committee; Maung Maung, of the National Council of Union of Burma; Col Yord Serk of the Shan State Army (South); and Gen Mu Tu and Brig-Gen Jonny of the Karen National Liberation Army.

Several dissidents along the Thai-Burmese border claim the assassinations were ordered by the Burmese junta and suggest that Karen National Union General Secretary Mahn Sha, who was gunned down on February 14, was top of the junta hit list.

Twenty undercover agents from Karen breakaway groups—the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and the KNU/KNLA Peace Council, led by Maj-Gen Htain Maung—have been assigned and deployed in Thailand’s Mae Sot area to carry out the assassinations, said sources on the Thai-Burmese border.

Junta Reshuffle

Burma’s junta is believed to be in the process of reshuffling a number of generals, including a cabinet minister and people in key positions in the Ministry of Defense, according to Rangoon-based analysts.

Construction Minister Maj-Gen Saw Htun is expected to receive permission to retire in the near future, as are Lt-Gen Maung Bo and Lt-Gen Myint Swe, two senior figures in the Ministry of Defense.

Maung Bo was the commander of the No. 4 Bureau of Special Operations until he took his current position within the Defense Ministry last November. His successor as commander of the No. 4 Bureau of Special Operations, Maj-Gen Tha Aye, is pegged to receive a further promotion as part of the current reshuffle. Prior to taking over Maung Bo’s job, Tha Aye headed the Northwest Military Command.

Also listed for promotion is Lt-Gen Myint Hlaing, the former leader of the Northeast Military Command, who currently serves as Chief of Staff for Air Defense. Myint Hlaing is said to be a close aide to Gen Maung Aye, No. 2 in the ruling military council.

Chief of Military Security Affairs Lt-Gen Ye Myint, a former rector of the elite Defense Services Academy and later commander of the Central Military Command, is also in line to move up the military hierarchy.

Observers in Rangoon say the latest changes are part of a plan by the ruling generals to expand and consolidate their power base.

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