The Emperor Looks to The Future
covering burma and southeast asia
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Magazine

ARTICLE

The Emperor Looks to The Future


By AUNG ZAW JUNE, 2010 - VOLUME 18 NO.6


COMMENTS (3)
RECOMMEND (573)
FACEBOOK
TWITTER
PLUSONE
 
MORE
E-MAIL
PRINT

How will Snr-Gen Than Shwe safeguard himself and his family after the election?


In an interview with a US television journalist on April 14, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong predicted that Burma’s ruling generals will not easily give up power, saying it is an “existential thing” for the few key people who make the decisions.

“If they are out, it’s not just that the country and the government have changed, but ‘Where do I go and which jail would I be in and [what about] my children and my jewels and my billions?’” he said. “ They are not likely to be persuaded by lectures.”

Snr-Gen Than Shwe during a state visit to Sri Lanka in November 2009-a rare overseas trip for a leader who has dedicated much of the past few years to making sure his house in order before stepping into the background.
With a reputation for secrecy, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, the junta’s No 1 and key decision-maker, rarely expresses emotion and anger when he executes his moves. From a position in the back rooms of the War Office during the 1988 uprising, the former psychological warfare officer engineered the top slot for himself after the military staged a coup and eventually became the nemesis of his predecessor, Gen Ne Win.

Ne Win secured his future by appointing trusted men like Gen Tin Oo (who later became vice chairman of the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy), Gen San Yu (who later became president) and Gen Kyaw Htin as commanders in chief of the armed forces in the 1970s and 80s. Ne Win remained at the top as party chairman of the Burmese Socialist Programme Party, but he rarely came back to meddle in politics. Having left his trusted men in the army and in the intelligence wing in 1988, however, he was seen as a father figure in the armed forces until his influence began to wane in the late 1990s.

Like Ne Win, Than Shwe has purged potential rivals and promoted his own men. Guests who attended the Armed Forces Day reception on March 27 at the palatial new reception center in Naypyidaw said Than Shwe looked confident. Senior army leaders reportedly told guests that the military supremo was readying to take a back seat.

A few hours previously, Than Shwe had delivered a short speech at a military parade. Although he did not say he was planning to retire, listeners said the message could be read between the lines.

“Our armed forces were originally formed by patriotic heroes to fight for independence,” Than Shwe said. “The leaders of the armed forces turned from politicians into patriotic Tatmadaw [Burmese army] men when the armed struggle for independence was necessary, and they turned back into politicians engaged in national politics when the time came for political struggle. In this way, our armed forces have had a brilliant history of achievement both in political and in military affairs.”

In what is considered a clear indication that the military does not intend to simply go “back to the barracks,” Than Shwe reportedly said the Tatmadaw should have three capabilities: military, organizational and administrative. The army had a duty to assist the “gentle transition,” he said.

Than Shwe must ensure that his most trusted lieutenants take over the reins of both the new government and the armed forces so that his family and fortune will be protected. For just as Than Shwe purged feared spy-chief Gen Khin Nyunt and betrayed his mentor, Ne Win, placing him under house arrest for allegedly plotting a coup shortly before the latter’s death in 2002, enemies in the military may be plotting against Than Shwe.

Khin Nyunt, who is now under house arrest on charges of corruption and insubordination, is just one of several powerful and influential people who would enjoy seeing Than Shwe overthrown and humiliated. He and his former intelligence officers bitterly opposed Than Shwe’s increasing grip on power, and since the purge, some who served long prison sentences for their association with Khin Nyunt have even cooperated with the opposition inside and outside the country to shed light on the regime.

Than Shwe knows that several retired army officers who are loyal to different factions within the armed forces could become potential enemies.



1  |  2  next page »

COMMENTS (3)
 
Please read our policy before you post comments. Click here
Name:
E-mail:   (Your e-mail will not be published.)
Comment:
You have characters left.
Word Verification: captcha Type the characters you see in the picture.
 

thu ri ya burma Wrote:
19/06/2010
Every rise must come down! See Ne Win, he started with revolutionary council and then changed to BSPP to govern Burma. At the end he was bitten by his own dogs. Burmese government style is just like animal society government. I remember National Geographic TV program, one powerful monkey governed his group for 4 to 5 year & then another powerful rival challenged & took over it.

Without the people's support, no leader can last long in human society.

Kyaw Wrote:
18/06/2010
Since Aung San Suu Kyi has given a free hand to Than Shwe by deciding not to participate in the election, Than Shwe and his cronies will keep this country and people under their pants for many, many years to come, until all jailed guys die from nature causes in the jails.

May Wrote:
17/06/2010
He is so cruel to Burmese people and he kills Burmese monks!

more articles in this section