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


The Emperor Looks to The Future


(Page 2 of 2)

To protect against such enemies gaining too much power, he has handpicked former aides and staff officers to serve in key positions, and will only hand power over to his most trusted allies.

A key loyal subordinate is Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein, who Than Shwe asked to lead the Union Solidarity and Development Party to contest in the election after learning that Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy had decided not to participate. Others include Lt-Gen Myint Swe, the head of the Bureau of Special Operations (5), Gen “Thura” Shwe Mann, the coordinator of Special Operations (army, navy and air force) and Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Maj-Gen Htay Oo, who is also secretary-general of the Union Solidarity and Development Association.

Than Shwe has promoted young officers who were his subordinates when he commanded Light Infantry Divison 88 in Magwe, including Gen Myint Swe and Maj-Gen Tin Ngwe, who are both being groomed to take the position of commander in chief. Other subordinates include Lt-Gen Hla Htay Win, Maj-Gen Kyaw Swe and Maj-Gen Wai Lwin, who is now commander of the Naypyidaw region. They are, in effect, Team Than Shwe.

Last year, it was rumored that Than Shwe had endorsed the junta’s No 3, Shwe Mann, who is also joint chief-of-staff of the armed forces, to become president of post-election Burma. But having proclaimed himself as the inspiration behind the modernization drive of the Burmese armed forces, Than Shwe may be reluctant to let another strong leader take over, knowing he may not be able to control future power struggles among his top commanders. 

Some analysts predict that Than Shwe will be president in the new government after the general election. There will be three nominees for the top political slot—one from the Amyotha Hluttaw (the House of Nationalities, or upper house), one from the Pyithu Hluttaw (the People’s Assembly, or lower house) and one from the 25 percent military contingent of the two Hluttaws, according to the 2008 Constitution—and it will be up to the two houses of parliament to choose the president.

According to the Constitution, one of the duties of the new president will be to head the National Defense and Security Council, which will have the power to declare a state of emergency, allowing it to suspend parliament and assume state control.

Some believe, however, that Than Shwe may chose to head a military council that will supercede the National Defense and Security Council—in effect, maintaining the current regime, albeit from behind a veil of civilian rule.

As things stand, Than Shwe’s real concern is likely to be the loyalty of young army officers and Cabinet ministers who have become increasingly powerful and wealthy in the last decade. Some of these officers may come to the fore in reshaping Burma as their roles change between being members of the armed forces or parliament.

An almost universally despised leader, Than Shwe will have to live with the resentment of those he has had arrested and imprisoned. He knows how the mighty can fall, and as he contends with sleepless nights wracked by visions of ghosts from his past seeking revenge, his safety and that of his family must be uppermost in his mind as he handpicks his successors.

Than Shwe’s Armed Forces Day message that his officers will play key roles in politics “whenever the need arises” could therefore be construed as a warning to potential challengers.

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thu ri ya burma Wrote:
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:
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:
He is so cruel to Burmese people and he kills Burmese monks!

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