Et Tu, General?
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Et Tu, General?


By AUNG ZAW Thursday, July 21, 2011


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In order to accurately analyze Burma and the players involved in running the government, one must understand the way that Machiavellian politics can lead to the dramatic rise and sudden fall of the country’s most powerful figures. Nowhere is this more true than with respect to Tin Oo and Khin Nyunt, the two men who successively led the country’s intelligence service from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s.  

It is believed that Gen Ne Win met Tin Oo in Mudon after returning to Burma with the Japanese forces. Tin Oo’s parents, who were both involved in Burma’s struggle for independence alongside Ne Win, asked the general to take care of their sons, who had all joined the army. When Tin Oo lost two of his brothers during the war, Ne Win decided to keep the bright and talented youth under his watch and not send him to the battlefield. 

Ne Win sent Tin Oo to Saipan Island in the Pacific Ocean to receive training from the CIA, and he later received training from the Royal Military Police in England as well. After Ne Win’s 1962 coup, the new dictator assigned Tin Oo to take care of and interrogate VIP political prisoners, including former President Mahn Win Maung and former Prime Minister U Nu, who were being held in a special detention center called Ye Kyi Aing, located outside of Rangoon. Tin Oo made preparations to prevent any rescue attempts for U Nu and his cabinet members, and with help from the 4th Burma Rifles Battalion, prepared to respond to air raids or operations by a foreign country’s  special forces. At one point, U Nu reportedly told Tin Oo, “You have to reap what you sow,” referring to Tin Oo’s role in punishing innocent people and elders. When Tin Oo’s wife delivered a baby daughter who was handicapped and could not walk, some believed this was U Nu’s prophecy come true.  

Tin Oo during his days as the second most powerful man in Burma. (Illustration: Aung Lart)
Tin Oo also flushed out several assassination attempts against Ne Win, which impressed the dictator immensely. In addition, he went into the field to confirm the death of Than Tun—a leader of the CPB’s Red Flag faction and a friend of the late Aung San—who in 1967 was killed in his jungle hideout by an assassin who claimed to be an army deserter. A bookworm, Tin Oo set up a publishing house within Military Intelligence (MI) to promote the regime’s anti-communist agenda and recruited disgruntled members of the communist movement who returned from their jungle hideouts to work for his MI-funded publishing operation. Tin Oo also published several of his own books, including “The Last Days of Thakin Than Tun” and “The Last Year of Zin & Chit,” which became primary resources for the communist movement in Burma.  

At that time, whenever Ne Win went abroad Kyaw Zwa Myint, an Anglo-Burmese operation commander who served in the intelligence units, usually accompanied him. But Kyaw Zwa Myint didn’t like Burmese socialism and reports surfaced that he planned to kill Ne Win. The planned assassination did not work out, and before Ne Win learned of his scheme, Kyaw Zwa Myint fled to the Thai-Burmese border and then to Australia. Prior to Kyaw Zwa Myint leaving Burma, however, Tin Oo’s spy network in Pegu Yoma found out that he was in the area and sent news of his presence to spy headquarters with a question: “What is he doing there?” 

Tin Oo quickly queried the War Office, but he received no reply because Col Lwin was afraid of reporting the case to Ne Win. But Tin Oo went straight to his mentor, who subsequently summoned senior intelligence officers and told them from then on to report directly to him. Afterwards, Ne Win brought Tin Oo to the War Office and his career took off: he became head of the National Intelligence Bureau and openly displayed his political ambition by creating the new position of chief military assistant to the president—a position considered to be more powerful than commander-in-chief. Tin Oo ran a ruthless and efficient spy network in Burma, earning the scorn of the Burmese people but accolades from Ne Win, who had many enemies and didn’t trust anyone other than his new spy chief. Tin Oo soon acquired the nickname MI Tin Oo, the name most people in Burma recognize to this day.  

The spy chief knew where his bread was buttered and didn’t hide his admiration for Ne Win.



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COMMENTS (10)
 
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BLT Wrote:
27/07/2011
Fact Corrector wrote:

"It is virtually impossible to find within the inner coterie a possible reformer which the opposition could 'co-opt'. There is no equivalent of a Burmese Fidel Ramos."

Thank you for pointing out that this piece is not only riddled with factual errors, but that its "analysis" is fundamentally flawed.

Does Aung Zaw really believe that there are reformers within the Tatmadaw, or is he just assuming that the rest of us are too ignorant to see through this drivel?

It's a shame that he is regarded as a bright light among Burmese journalists. It makes the rest look bad, and they deserve far better.

Tun Zaw Wrote:
27/07/2011
Hey folks, lay off poor Ko Aung Zaw. Everybody knows he has only been a journalist for 20 years. Sure, for every mistake, maybe he got one thing right. This is not bad for him.

Tettoe Aung Wrote:
25/07/2011
I don't think Ehipassika knew that Tin Oo supplied those 'ghost authors' Yebaw Bakhet with files and materials in the possession of military intelligence. Everything in Burma is not what it looks like on surface. There's a lot of 'undercurrent' going on beneath the surface. If we were to get away with things we do one way or another, why would Buddha taught us about the law of Karma? Where would 'vibagga pyitsayaw' be if there is no such thing as,'Ye shalt reap, what you sown.' Even if they don't get the full force of the evil they did to others, they will somehow be reminded of what they have done and that regret my friend is another form of suffering. It's all in the mind.

hlamyint Wrote:
25/07/2011
NE WIN TRAINED HIS TOP 100 GENS AS MONSTERS 10 TIMES WORST THAN HIM.

THAN SHWE TRAINED TOP 100 GENS AS MONSTERS 100 TIMES WORST THAN HIM FROM ORDINARY AVERAGE BURMESE PEOPLE & BURMA FUTURE POINT OF VIEW.

AS LONG AS THIS SYSTEM IS IN BURMA ( become worst & worst in past 10 to 50 yrs ), ORDINARY BURMESE PEOPLE LIFE WILL BE 100 WORST THAN S'POREANS, MALAYSIAN & THAIs.

Past 20 yrs, Top 100 gens are fighting for power ( & of course esp. millions of dollars from Burma country's Projects )

In S'pore, China, India, Europe, Australia & Malaysia, Govt top leaders used country's INCOMES for education, JOBs creation & healthcare which are basics for every country, every home & every family.

MW Wrote:
25/07/2011
Thakhin Than Tun was not the leader of Red Flag faction, thakhin Soe was. In fact BCP (Burma Communist Party) was known as the White communist or White Flag faction.
The assassin of thakhin Than Tun was his body guard - a BCP soldier rather than army deserter.
Such masterpieces as "The last days of thakhin Than Tun" were published by the publishing house known as Myayarbin Sarpay which was established by a couple of BCP absconders who naturally were well-supported by BSPP government. MI Tin Oo might be among the (duty bound)supporters but he was not definitely the author of those historical books.

Ehipassika Wrote:
25/07/2011
The books, 'The last days of Thakin Than Tun' and 'Zin & Chit', as far as I know, were written by Yebaw Ba Hket _ not by MI Tin Oo.

Maung Maung Wrote:
24/07/2011
Commendable article by U Aung Zaw, but some errors:
(1) Thakhin Than Tun was not the leader of the Red Flag faction of Burmese Communists. He was the Chairman of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), so called the White Flags;
(2) MI Tin Oo did not join the Burma Army until graduation from the Rangoon University
(3) The Red Carpet Treatment given in Bangkok to his son on honeymoon was given not by the Burmese Embassy, but by the then Thai Premier General Sulanandar as he was a class mate of Tin Oo at the CIA Course.This was reported to UNW by his favourite daughter.
(4) The last straw came when Tin Oo did astrological helps to promote his cause by implanting INNs(astrological squares) in UNW's house.

Fact Corrector Wrote:
23/07/2011
Than Tun was NOT leader of the "Red Flag" Communists. Thakin Soe was. Than Tun was killed not in '1967' but on 24 September 1968(2) the two books 'The Last Days of Thakin Than Tun' and 'Zin and Chit the Last TWo' were written by Yebaws (Comrades) Mya and Ba Khet (3) Thaung Kyi (former Colonel) did not die 'in '1980' but in November 1981. Tin Oo died not in 1998 but in 1999. It is virtually impossible to find within the inner coterie a possible reformer which the opposition could 'co-opt'. There is no equivalent of a Burmese Fidel Ramos.

Min Nway Wrote:
23/07/2011
It is part of the history of Burmese MI.
We knew him as 'LAT WarGyi 'when we were young.He looke like a monster --Frankenstein -created By Nw Win.
I really appreciate Ko Aung Zaw for writing about Burmese monsters.It is our history.Please write more about Sein Lwin and Khin Nyunt. We will never forget them
who destroyed our country by creating a long suffering killing fields on our land.
We need good writers like you to tell the young people about our past so that those
who are too young to know will developed patriotism.

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
22/07/2011
One of the most interesting and informative articles written for/by IRRAWADDY.

IRRAWADDY must be highly commended.

How tragic that our elders had to go through 'medieval' era that lasted so long.

Let us hope that a new era has dawned.
We hope that IRRAWADDY can expose the geriatrics of NUP too.

We need to know. The people need to know. Younger generations need to know.

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