Intelligence (December 2008)
covering burma and southeast asia
Thursday, June 20, 2024

Intelligence (December 2008)



A VIP Hideout in Naypyidaw

Military intelligence sources in Burma have revealed that a bunker has been built near the homes of junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his second-in-command, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye. The bunker was built in Naypyidaw, the regime’s capital since 2005, as a shelter for top military leaders and their families in the event of an invasion or civil war, the sources said.

Constructed by military engineers to house as many as 100 people, it includes office facilities and a tunnel wide enough for two cars. Military officers who visited the bunker said that it was easily accessible in a military patrol jeep.

The cave is further evidence of the junta’s siege mentality, which went into overdrive earlier this year when US naval ships approached Burmese waters to offer humanitarian assistance to victims of Cyclone Nargis in May. The VIP hideout was specifically designed to withstand an airborne assault and provides both living space for the generals and their families and a command center. It was reportedly constructed with the assistance of foreign technicians, including North Koreans.

Naypyidaw is strategically located between Burma’s Pyinmana and Pegu mountain ranges, in an area once controlled by Communists and Karen rebels, who used the region as a base for their efforts to overthrow the government in Rangoon.

The Young and the Restless

Nay Shwe Thway Aung (right)

Reports of misdeeds by young businessmen and the sons of the military elite have resurfaced in Rangoon. Nay Shwe Thway Aung, supposedly the favorite grandson of Burmese head of state Snr-Gen Than Shwe, is allegedly at the center of a scandal in Rangoon.

According to a political blog by Ko Htike, some young men who are relatives of retired army generals were attacked by a gang led by Cho Htwe, himself the grandson of a well-known businessman. Soon after, investigating police received a call from Than Shwe’s fun-loving grandson and were ordered to close the case.

Nay Shwe Thway Aung, 17, is a familiar face with the Burmese public because he usually accompanies his grandfather on tours of inspection throughout the country and enjoys red carpet treatment. He also is reportedly at the center of a recent drug scandal in Rangoon. Sources close to military officers told The Irrawaddy that young entrepreneur Maung Weik and another man, both of who were friends of Than Shwe’s grandson, were arrested by police on suspicion of procuring ecstasy pills for Nay Shwe Thway Aung.

Tay Za, the Artful Dodger

Despite the global economic downturn deterring foreign art buyers from Rangoon’s galleries, one of the junta’s cronies, Tay Za, is reportedly making plans to establish an art museum in the former capital. Several artists confirmed that the young tycoon, who was recently targeted with fresh US sanctions, is hiring a US citizen to buy paintings by contemporary Burmese artists to exhibit in his gallery. The art museum will be located near Inya Lake on Kabaraye Pagoda Road, according to sources.

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