Et Tu, General?
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Et Tu, General?


By AUNG ZAW Thursday, July 21, 2011


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Whenever he had whiskey with his colleagues, Tin Oo would say, “I have only one god—Gen Ne Win.” on the flip side, Ne Win heavily relied on Tin Oo and would usually consult him first before making any decision regarding who to appoint to the cabinet and top positions in the armed forces. Later, when Tin Oo was named joint general-secretary of the Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP), Ne Win’s staff began calling him “Number one” and Tin Oo “Number one and Half”—behind their backs, of course.

Afterward, a rift between Ne Win and Tin Oo began to appear, and Tin Oo’s rivals fueled the fire by feeding Ne Win information about him. After he was appointed joint secretary of the BSPP, Tin Oo promoted Mon culture through several state-sponsored projects, including the Burmese Broadcasting Service, and a rumor began to circulate suggesting that he was a “Mon Pretender” who wanted to govern Burma after Ne Win’s passing. Several army officers including Sein Lwin, who is also Mon and received the nickname “The Butcher of Rangoon” after the 1988 massacre, were behind the smear campaign against Tin Oo.  

The campaign to discredit Tin Oo appeared to be paying off when, just a few days before Tin Oo’s son held a wedding party in Rangoon, many passengers at the Rangoon International Airport saw Ne Win board a special flight to Ngapali Beach. To many, this was a clear sign that Ne Win was unhappy with Tin Oo—all of Burma’s top brass other than Ne Win attended the lavish wedding, and after most of the guests had left, a drunken Tin Oo confided to aides that Ne Win was upset with him. 

Not long afterward, Ne Win summoned Tin Oo and reprimanded him. Then in 1983, Tin Oo was sentenced to five life terms in prison for misuse of state funds and property. The government published a series of articles accusing Tin Oo of corruption, citing his sons’ lavish wedding and the red carpet treatment he received at the Burmese embassy in Bangkok when he visited. Everyone knew that the corruption charges were untrue, and observers speculated that Tin Oo was purged because he moved to consolidate his power too quickly. 

Following Tin Oo’s removal, Col Aung Koe became the spy chief, but he soon fell from grace when North Korean agents planted a bomb at Aung San’s Martyr’s Mausoleum that killed several in a visiting South Korean delegation. “Where the hell was he?” Ne Win asked. The reply was that Aung Koe was playing golf, which prompted Ne Win to ask a second question: “Can we get someone who doesn’t play golf and doesn’t drink?” 

Brig Gen Tint Swe, the Minister for Industry (1), proposed his former personal security officer, Khin Nyunt, a young, charming and ambitious colonel who previously served in the War Office in the 1970s and was currently serving in the 44th Light Infantry Division in Karen State. Khin Nyunt was educated at Rangoon University before joining the army, and Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew once called him “The most intelligent of the lot.” 

Ne Win, who was then over 70, did not know Khin Nyunt, but he soon began to trust the young, efficient and loyal officer. Khin Nyunt became Ne Win’s gatekeeper and was seen accompanying the dictator on overseas trips beginning as early as 1984. When Ne Win received medical treatment in Cromwell Hospital in London in 1986 (Ne Win’s last visit to London), Khin Nyunt hid a pistol in his jacket and stayed in the hospital overnight. And when Ne Win went to meet Princess Alexandra in London, Khin Nyunt was seen sitting obediently in a Mercedes Benz opposite Ne Win and his daughter. Accompanying Ne Win and many top leaders on trips to the West allowed Khin Nyunt to learn the thinking of the regime’s inner circle and, just as importantly, the outside world. 

Ne Win resigned in July 1988 and a coup occurred in September, following a mass uprising led by Burmese students. The resulting junta called itself the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Gen Saw Maung became the Chairman of SLORC, and Khin Nyunt—who had been well positioned ahead of the coup and helped create anarchy during the 1988 uprising that paved the way for the army to take over—was rewarded by being named Secretary-1.  

This piece is a summary of Aung Zaw’s article that appears in The Irrawaddy’s latest e-magazine. To read the full version visit: http://issuu.com/irrawaddy/docs/irr_vol.19no2_june2011_issuu/42?viewMode=magazine&mode=embed



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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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