Steven Law’s Rising Empire
covering burma and southeast asia
Monday, May 27, 2024

Steven Law’s Rising Empire

By WAI MOE Friday, July 22, 2011

Steven Law, second from left, and Tin Aung Myint Oo, center, at Rangoon's international airport on June 11, 2011 (Photo: The New Light of Myanmar)

Chinese businessmen are currently the richest in Burma—a fact that obviously doesn't sit well with the Burmese business community.

In a recent interview with an Italian journalist, Tay Za, one of Burma’s US-sanctioned tycoons, complained that “Too many Chinese have taken our citizenship and are now boasting they are the richest. But they’re not pure Burmese.”

One of Tay Za’s leading rivals is Tun Myint Naing, also known as Steven Law, 53, who has also been a target of US sanctions since early 2008.

Rangoon businessmen say that Law, a Kokang Chinese, has even surpassed Tay Za as Burma's wealthiest man thanks to his involvement in a number of mega projects run by the Chinese state-owned corporations, including a Sino-Burmese oil and gas pipeline project, a deep-sea port in Kyaukpyu, and the Myitsone and Tasang hydro-power dams.

Most notably, Law’s Asia World Company has been working closely with Chinese companies that own an 80 percent share of of Burma’s hydro-power projects. The Myitsone project alone is estimated to be worth US $3.6 billion. Total Chinese total investment in Burma since March 2010 is $8.17 billion, much of it connected in some way to Asia World.

Law did especially well when Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo was the chairman of Burma’s Trade Policy Council, a body that has been disbanded since a new government was formed in March. The two men have been close since the mid-1990s, when then Brig-Gen Tin Aung Myint Oo was commander of the Military Operations Command 1 in Kyaukme, Shan State.

According to intelligence officials, the relationship between the two men began during the construction of the Mandalay-Kyaukme-Lashio-Muse road. At the time, military officials described Law’s family as “good givers”.

Law's father, drug kingpin and militia leader Lo Hsing Han,76, played a key role in cementing ties between Law and the Burmese generals.

“Among his children, Lo Hsing Han said that Steven Law was the best at doing business. That's why he chose him to deal with the ruling generals and to run the family's business interests in the cities. However, the other sons are also involved in secret businesses,” said a former Burmese intelligence officer who knows about the family's files, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Lo Hsing Han is still well respected in the Kokang-Chinese business community. His other sons are reportedly based in Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan doing business. In accordance with Chinese tradition, Lo Hsing Han is seen as the godfather of the family business,” he added.

Law's involvement with the Burmese generals has not been limited to doing business, however. He also acted as a broker during ceasefire talks between the Burmese junta and Chinese-backed Kokang commanders of the Communist Party of Burma in 1989, when ethnic commanders revolted against the party.

Two decades later, Law continues to act as an important intermediary for Burma's generals. Because of his close ties to Chinese officials in Beijing, he accompanied President Thein Sein and his delegation to China in late May.

A Burmese official on the trip said that during the China visit, Law was often beside Thein Sein, chatting with the Burmese president. He added that Law sometimes acted as an interpreter between Thein Sein and Chinese officials, even when there were official interpreters present.

According to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a former ceasefire group that resumed fighting with the Burmese army in June, Law has paid a handsome price to earn the generals' trust.

“Based on our information from businessmen, Snr-Gen Than Shwe and Tin Aung Myint Oo receive 25 and 20 percent, respectively, of Asia World’s broker fees from Chinese companies in the hydro-power project deals in Kachin State,” said La Nan, joint-secretary of the KIA's political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization .

Law also enjoys other privileges, including occasional appearances in Burma's state-run media, often in the presence of Tin Aung Myint Oo.

Most recently, he was seen in a photo that ran alongside a report on the visit of Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong to Rangoon's Ahlone Port on July 13. The port, built by Asia World, was showcased during the visit, giving Law a chance to build commercial ties not only with Naypyidaw and Beijing, but also with Vientiane.

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

TZW Wrote:
This is nothing to do with all Chinese and nothing to do with racism too. Even in western democracy country also people doesn't favour to racist group or element. We can see bad people in every country or every race or every nationality and we can see good people either. Somebody' comment is gonna be wrong way. Main land China is communist but Taiwan, Singapore is not communist but all of them are Chinese. Myanmar people must be think like wise people, please don't be stupid anymore. Nowadays..,we are live in globalization era. I'm a pure Burmese and democracy supporter. Please..we must be clever people....!

Tettoe Aung Wrote:
Most of us here commented on the Chinese. No, it not just the 'Chinese' that is the problem. It the 'Chinese with Drugs background' that is the problem. The military regime may be just one of the 'tentacle' of the Octopus. Can anyone become member of the ruling SPDC is they have not served in the Eastern Command like Than Shwe, Maung Aye, Thein Sein, Tin Aung Myint Oo and so one. The common thread that tied them together is their role in the whole of 'Drug Empire'. I wish I was an investigative journalist. Lo Hsin Han just just a commander under Olive Yang that is where he cut his teeth in drug trade. And who is Khun Sa? Who made him? There won't be answers as long as the military regime is in power. Will they go like Chile's Pinochet or Panama's Noriega? That is for us to wait and see. Will the USWA always be the 'fall-guy' for drug trafficking? I don't think so.

Pa Pa Wrote:
The drug money are investing in Burma through Projects by Chinese Government and changing white money.

All women and men were using drug according to DRUG dealers and those connected with SPDC guys.

Chinese Projects must be STOP by force by all arm groups and our democracy groups.

KKK Wrote:
We must stop these Chineses invasion. This invasion is totally unacceptable. We need to form a new ARMY just like General Aung San did (BIA). All armed ethnic groups stand up and work together now. We must stop all dam projects, pipelines, jetty, and deep seaports. Now it the time to get our country back.

KKK Wrote:
If we don't get rid of these businessmen, there is no place to live for Burmese. I urge all ethnic groups to take actions on Chinese invasion. Now is the time to get rid of these business men one at a time. They don't have escort or body guards like the generals. Instead of killing ordinary soldiers, kill these business men.

Zam Mang Wrote:
The rule of lawlessness will end sooner or later. Than Shwe and his associates may benefit from this son of king of opium. Than Shwe and Thein Sein will not rule Burma forever. One day, they all will be put on trial and sent to Great Coco Island for good.

A.M.O Wrote:
Well, from Gen Ne Win to Gen Than Shwe, spanning almost five decades, these guys are getting kickbacks from drug kingpins like Hkun Sa, Lo Hsing Han and so on; as part of cover up & protection.

The hard truth is that, upon Gen Ne Win's downfall from grace in 1988 national uprising, and the following years(from 1989 to 1991 onwards), military regime is totally broke; and these drug kingpins came in to pop up the regime with drug money, which the regime need badly.

Later on oil/gas operators Unocal, Total, Texaco came in with gas sales for hard currency.

So, drug money is very much in Burmese generals' blood - no doubt about it.

George Than Setkyar Heine Wrote:
So Burma's businesses/economy is practically in the hands of Chinese no less and Steven Law also an ethnic Chinese, only born in Burma, is REAPING THE HARVEST today as well.
Lo Sing Han is a drug runner and his son doing good in Burma with the drug money; no thanks to dumbs like Than Shwe and Tin Aung Myint Oo.

Well, Burma's Spring is just around the corner and Steven Law and his drug runner father's days are getting shorter no less trust me.

Don't doubt the WHEEL OF MISFORTUNE is turning toward Steven Law lest he forgets.

Tettoe Aung Wrote:
Indeed, this is exactly a good example of the saying, "money is the root of all evils". But in Steven Law and Burma's case when the money in itself the evil money such as 'drug money' then it's not just the 'roots all evil' but also became 'the branches', 'the twigs, and the 'trunk' as well. Need any more to mention the 'fruits' its going to bear? I guess not. Even a country with very strict drug laws cannot resist investment from Steven Law how on earth can Burma under this military (without uniform)or the military regime with Chinese characteristics could resist. Can you spot anyone that minutely resemble as 'Burmese' in the photo? If you can let me know which one please.

shwe moe Wrote:
“Too many Chinese have taken our citizenship and are now boasting they are the richest. But they’re not pure Burmese.” You have got it right this time Tay Za and I support you for once. It befuddles me as to how the Chinese can get permits to conduct business, marry our Burmese women to skirt all the laws, but yet we expats, ethinc Burmese are repeatedly denied all these rights to set foot in our own homeland. I think, it is time for Generals in pasos to change their smoke or else we will soon see Red Flags with four yellow stars fluttering from a building near you.

kerry Wrote:
Given the widespread long-term human rights abuses and human suffering in Burma, all names and details of profiteers should now be referred to UN.

tocharian Wrote:
As an old burmese saying goes:

"tayoke tayek taing pyay hpyek"

The Chinese are destroying the country with the help of traitors like the shitlone: THTRTAMO

Terry Evans Wrote:
You put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig

Oo Maung gyi Wrote:
It is clearly shown that druglord family is controlling Burma mega projects in collaboration with Burmese generals in Burma.
Not only majority Burmese has to suffer but also Arkanese are suffering due to Deepsea port construction was awarded to druglord Law Sit Han's son Steven Law ( Tun Myint Naing ). Many peoples in Arakan angry and may be upon completion of this deepsea port
project some thing will happen in Arakan either foreign invasion or Arakanese rebellion due to this strategic port. Anti-Chinese sentiment is very high now throughout Burma.

Min Nway Wrote:
Tun Myint Naing ,a drug kingpin's son is the only one of the pimps serving Burmese junta who wears not only skirt but also acts like prostitutes to newly rich Chinese playboy masters.

Mualcin Wrote:
Chinese are not bad people except money is their god. Chinese control Malaysian economy. How about Thailand? 60% of Bangkok residents have at least Chinese blood. If we the Burmese people cannot build our country, let the Chinese run business in Burma.

Fred Wrote:
China executes its own citizens for accepting the types of payments that the KIA says China is handing out. “Broker’s fees”? Everyone else calls them bribes. The generals and their cronies could deny it all, but, just where does that money come from that Mizzima says the USDP is handing out as “loans” to their party members? I bet you they’re going to use some sloppy accountants to manage those loan portfolios.

KKK Wrote:
Steven Law is not the only one who runs Law Empire. Law Hsing Minn, a younger brother of Law Hsing Han and his family run Law Empire. Law Hsing Minn is a well-educated man who knows how to deal with the generals and Chinese government. Very few people know about Law Hsing Minn.

Maung Maung Wrote:
No wonder birds of the same feather flock together as Generals Thein Sein and Thihthura Tin Aing Myint Oo are Chinese business men in Burma Army uniforms (now in mufti). Look at their faces and they all look alike... Chinese!

Than Shwe is jut profiting by proxy. His quarter-master general KK is expert in these things. She is also a Chinese clad in Pa-O dresses. Burma needs another Mingyi Yan-Naung to reclaim the Burmese sovereignty.

more articles in this section