Daily News-November 11 - 2001- Sunday


  • Win Myint and Tin Hla sacked in Myanmar shake-up
  • Leads throughout with new details of the two generals
  • Myanmar junta dismisses top generals
  • UN Envoy Says Burma Ripe For Change
  • Government-in-exile welcomes Japanese interest in country's future
  • Foreign minister leaves for New York UN General Assembly
  • Japanese company to assist Shan State, Wa region development projects
  • Myanmar junta sacks five more ministers in sweeping reshuffle
  • Myanmar's military makes big cabinet changes


  • Top officials sacked in Myanmar shake-up

    By Aung Hla Tun

    YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's ruling military council has dismissed a top member and a deputy prime minister in one of its most significant shake-ups in recent years.

    State-run newspapers on Saturday reported that the State Peace and Development Council's (SPDC) Secretary Three, Lieutenant General Win Myint, widely regarded as the fourth most powerful man in the country, had lost his job.

    Win Myint was formerly military commander of Myanmar's western region before he joined the SPDC in late 1997.

    The SPDC orders, signed by the powerful Secretary One and intelligence chief Khin Nyunt, also announced the sacking of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Military Affairs Lieutenant General Tin Hla.

    Tin Hla, also quarter master general who had supervised economic affairs and interests of the armed forces, is not a member of the 17-member military-led SPDC. The military has been running the country since 1962.

    The SPDC did not give reasons for the dismissals, but diplomats in Yangon said the two men had long been rumoured to have had personal business connections with the private sector.

    "It has long been the talk of the town of some possible corruption involved. I think this would improve the image of the government," a diplomat said.

    The SPDC's sackings coincide with the fourth anniversary of its formation announced on November 15 1997. The military body includes most members of the previous ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) which seized power in 1988 and later changed its name.

    Diplomats speculated that there could be some more purges of senior government officials or cabinet members on the eve of the SPDC anniversary next week.

    "It's very hard to predict the future in a society which lacks enough transparency. The only thing we can be sure is that anything could happen any time," a retired government official told Reuters.

    Diplomats and local politicians said any additional cabinet changes might involve some ageing members of the SPDC as their departure would make room for promotions of younger officers.

    They referred to local rumours that two other Myanmar deputy prime ministers -- Vice Admiral Maung Maung Khin, 72, and Lieutenant General Tin Tun, 70 -- may retire gracefully soon for health reasons. The two were SLORC members before the council was renamed the SPDC.

    "The retirement of the overstayed ones will make room for the young ones and cause satisfaction among them," said a local politician who declined to be named.

    He said any further cabinet changes would not significantly alter Myanmar's foreign policy or its treatment of the domestic opposition.

    The SPDC and the opposition led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party have been at loggerheads for years, but are now holding secret talks to negotiate a return to democracy in the country.
    Leads throughout with new details of the two generals

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Myanmar's ruling junta has sacked its fourth-ranking general and a deputy prime minister both also top executives at military-run companies but offered no explanation, official press reported Saturday.

    "The State Peace and Development Council has terminated the duties of SPDC Secretary-3 Lt. Gen. Win Myint and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Military Affairs Lt. Gen. Tin Hla with effect from (Friday)," announcements in all three official newspapers said. The reports did not name the officials' successors.

    Win Myint, an army general, was appointed in 1997 to the SPDC the country's elite16-member military council which has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma since 1988.Lt. Gen. Tin Hla, who was not in the SPDC, was a quartermaster general in the army. He was appointed minister for military affairs in 1997 and deputy prime minister in 1998.

    No reason was given for the changes but the unusually frank wording appeared to indicate that both men had fallen from favor. State announcements of dismissals normally say the official "was allowed to resign."

    The orders were signed by Secretary One Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, the third-ranking official in the regime. Secretary Two Lt. Gen. Tin Oo died in a helicopter crash in February and has not been replaced.

    News of the sackings came as a surprise to observers, especially because media coverage of Win Myint had increased suggesting his rising status since Tin Oo's death. Most media outlets are run by the military and all reports are subject to state censorship. Analysts said both men likely had also lost their posts at state-run companies.

    Win Myint has been chairman of the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd., which has investments in sectors such as mining, garment production and fisheries. He also had the authority to issue import licenses for products such as cars and palm oil.

    Tin Hla has held the chairman's post at the Myanmar Economic Corp. and has served as the Myanmar military's chief of procurement. The Myanmar Economic Corp. has wide-ranging investmenvs in banking, insurance, information technology and other sectors.

    Critics say corruption is rife in Myanmar's struggling economy, which is dominated by the military and its associates.

    One Yangon-based diplomat, who declined to be identified, said the sackings showed that the regime's top three generals SPDC leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe, army chief Gen. Maung Aye and military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt are very much in control of the government.

    Myanmar has been ruled by its military since 1962. The current regime took power after a bloody crackdown on nationwide protests for democracy in 1988. It held general elections in 1990, but refused to honor the landslide victory of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently under house detention. Reconciliation talks between Suu Kyi and the regime began last October but have showed no sign of bringing an end to Myanmar's political deadlock.

    In May, Minister for Post and Communications Brig. Gen. Win Tin was also fired from his post in a minor cabinet reshuffle.
    Myanmar junta dismisses top generals

    YANGON, Nov 10 (AFP) - Myanmar's military government has fired two high-ranking officials in what appears to be the most significant shake-up of the junta in years, official reports and analysts said Saturday.

    Third Secretary Lieutenant-General Win Myint of the ruling State Peace and Development Council and Lieutenant-General Tin Hla, a deputy prime minister and military affairs minister were removed from their posts, the reports said. The reshuffle was ordered by the junta's powerful intelligence chief, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, in statements published by state newspapers including the New Light of Myanmar.

    Both Win Myint, the regime's fourth-ranking general, and Tin Hla had been deeply involved in the economic workings of the military state and headed its state business enterprises -- Myanmar economic holdings and Myanmar economic corporation.

    No reason was given for their dismissal, and successors have not been named for their political posts.

    Chayachoke Chulasiriwongs, a professor at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said the re-shuffle was an attempt to consolidate political power rather than bring in new leaders to help the moribund Myanmar economy.

    "It's one of the most significant shake-ups in the military junta, and at the same time establishes the power of Khin Nyunt in the hierarchy," Chayachoke said.

    "With the reshuffling, it shows that Khin Nyunt is trying to increase his power within the government," he said. "He is probably the most powerful person now." Chayachoke said: "The Myanmar economy is not going well, but this has been going on for years."

    Local sources say the generals were suspected of mismanagement and that the Myanmar leadership was eager to replenish its ranks with younger officers. While their political posts remain vacant, the generals' military duties will be taken over by newly-promoted officers, according to a military source who said the shake-up extended further down the command chain.

    Nine regional military commanders would be moved from outlying areas to take up new responsibilities in Yangon, the source said.

    Among them, Major General Thein Sein, a commander in the notorious Golden Triangle area known as a hub for illicit narcotics, will fill a military post left by Win Myint.

    Another officer who oversees military operations in the northern Shan State division, Major General Tin Aung Myint, will take the post of quartermaster from Tin Hla, the source said.

    Seven other military commanders will re-locate to Yangon, with four of them taking up jobs as special operations chiefs and three given supervisory roles for military training.

    The officers have been described as young front-line leaders who are already powerful in their own right.

    Myanmar has lived under military rule since 1962, and the current military government took power after rejecting results of 1990 elections won by democracy leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

    The military regime has held the opposition leader under house arrest for the past year after she attempted to go to the northern city of Mandalay in defiance of a travel ban. The pro-democracy party has demanded the release of an estimated 1,500 political prisoners still being held in Myanmar's jails.
    UN Envoy Says Burma Ripe For Change

    VOA News

    A United Nations human rights envoy is urging Burma's military rulers to seize what he describes as a "golden opportunity" to change the political and human rights situation in the country.

    Paulo Sergio Pinheiro says some progress has been made in year-long secret talks between the Burmese government and the main opposition leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. He says the military rulers must act quickly now to capitalize on the progress.

    Mr. Pinheiro visited Burma last month in a U.N. fact finding mission. He made the assessment in a report Friday to the U.N. General Assembly. The envoy also urged the international community to acknowledge and encourage progress in Burma, saying it should not waste what he called the "momentum" for change.

    Mr. Pinheiro said nothing could help Burma more than the building of an all-inclusive, accountable and transparent democratic process. He said to do so would enable Burma to preserve and consolidate peace and national unity.

    Burma's military government is under punishing economic sanctions because of its suppression of the opposition. The National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in the 1990 multiparty elections, but the results were never recognized by the military, which has ruled Burma for decades. Military authorities kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for years and routinely has harassed and jailed her supporters.

    During his trip to Burma in October, Mr. Pinheiro met with senior junta leaders including Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt and Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

    The U.N. envoy said he was allowed access to prisoners in Mandalay. However, he said he was concerned with what he called stringent restrictions that continue to hamper the freedom of ethnic minority groups and political parties. Mr. Pinheiro's trip to the country was cut short after he took ill. He says he hopes to return to Burma early next year to resume his fact finding mission.

    Related story :
    Press conference by Human rights rapporteur on Myanmar
    Government-in-exile welcomes Japanese interest in country's future

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Nov 10, 2001

    Text of press release by the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, issued on 6 November, entitled "Japan asked to play 'active role' to push democratization forward" carried in English by Burmese opposition electronic newspaper BurmaNet News on 8 November

    The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) has learned that Japanese Prime Minister Mr Junichiro Koizumi has had a sideline meeting with Senior Gen Than Shwe, chairman of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), during the ASEAN Plus Three summit meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan to discuss the future of Burma.

    We truly appreciate Mr Koizumi's interest in the political future of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the democracy movement [National League for Democracy], his support for the democratization of Burma, and for asking the generals to release all political prisoners.

    Mr Koizumi is no doubt aware that the talks being held with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi have lasted more than a year now. Japan and the international community can contribute to the democratization of Burma by strongly persuading the SPDC to take significant and immediate steps to bolster the talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and to move the democratization process forward.

    The NCGUB is firmly convinced that if democracy is to come to Burma all forms of assistances to the SPDC must be withheld until the talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi produce irreversible and substantive results.

    Prime Minister Dr Sein Win of the NCGUB said: "We look forward to Japan and the international community working concertedly with the United Nations and playing more active roles to convince the SPDC that it is in Burma's interests to work for democracy and national reconciliation together with the National League for Democracy."
    Foreign minister leaves for New York UN General Assembly

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Nov 10, 2001

    Yangon [Rangoon], 9 November: The Myanmar [Burmese] delegation led by Minister for Foreign Affairs U Win Aung left here by air this afternoon to attend the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York which begins on 12 September...

    The delegation to the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly also comprises Minister at the Prime Minister's Office U Tin Win as alternate chairman; Permanent Representative of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations in New York U Kyaw Tint Swe as vice-chairman; Ambassador Dr Kyaw Win of Myanmar embassy in London; U Win Mra, director-general of the International Organizations and Economic Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Lt-Col Hla Min and Lt-Col Sithu of the Ministry of Defence; and, U Zeyar Oo, deputy permanent representative of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations in New York as members...
    Japanese company to assist Shan State, Wa region development projects

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Nov 10, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese radio on 9 November

    Mr Kenichi Kato, chairman of Karamosia International Co. of Japan paid a courtesy call on Col Thein Nyunt, minister for progress of border areas and national races and development affairs, at the latter's office in Yangon [Rangoon] at 1300 today. They held cordial and frank discussions on matters related to implementation of the second phase of southern Shan State all-round development project and southern Wa region all-round development project.

    Next, a memorandum of understanding [MoU] on the second phase of southern Shan State all-round development project was signed by Col Than Swe, director-general of progress of border areas and national races department, and Mr Kenichi Kato, chairman of Karamosia International Co. of Japan. Col Than Swe and Mr Kato later exchanged the MoUs.
    Myanmar junta sacks five more ministers in sweeping reshuffle

    Myanmar's military junta has ordered five more ministers to retire, in addition to two top-ranking officials already fired in a sweeping reshuffle of the regime, official reports said.The retirement of deputy prime ministers Rear Admiral Maung Maung Kin and Lieutenant Tin Tun, who were in their late sixties, had been expected.

    But the departure of Minister of Culture Win Sein, Minister for Cooperatives Aung San and Minister for Immigration and Manpower Saw Tun, was unexpected.

    Lieutenant-General Win Myint, Third Secretary of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), and Lieutenant-General Tin Hla, a deputy prime minister and military affairs minister, were removed from their posts earlier.Both Win Myint and Tin Hla had been deeply involved in the economic workings of the military state and headed its state business enterprises -- Myanmar Economic Holdings and Myanmar Economic Corporation.No reason was given for the dismissal of the seven men, and successors have not been named for their political posts.

    Extensive reshuffles are not uncommon within the SPDC, which likes to move around even its most trusted generals every few years.

    But Win Myint, the regime's fourth-ranking general, is the most senior junta official to lose his job, and observers in Yangon said his departure was extremely significant.

    Myanmar's last dramatic personnel change happened in 1997, when four ministers -- for the trade, hotel and tourism, agriculture and transportation portfolios -- were stood down amid accusations of graft.

    The sacking of the ministers, who had been seen as untouchable because of their close relationship to former dictator Ne Win, caused a furore in the hierarchy.In that case too, the departure of top generals caused ripples down the SPDC hierarchy as their subordinates fell out of favour and were replaced.

    The latest dismissals appeared to be a mixed bag of changes, affecting both elderly men functioning in only a ceremonial capacity, and top officials whose dismissal was framed in harsh terms.

    Win Myint and Tin Hla were both given "termination notifications", the most severe form of dismissal which indicates that the junta was deeply unhappy with their performance.The five other ministers were "permitted to retire", the most lenient wording available.

    Myanmar has lived under military rule since 1962, and the current military government took power after rejecting the results of 1990 elections won by democracy leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.The military regime has held the opposition leader under house arrest for the past year, but during that time the two sides have embarked on their first official dialogue since 1994.The international community is cautiously optimistic that the historic talks could be paving the way for some sort of democratic reforms in Myanmar.
    Myanmar's military makes big cabinet changes

    YANGON, Nov. 10 Myanmar's ruling military council announced major cabinet changes on Sunday, one day after it dismissed two top officials in one of the most sweeping changes in the government in recent years.

    Diplomats and analysts said the changes in the past two days, involving a senior member of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and three deputy premiers, were efforts by the secretive ruling body to inject young blood into an ageing leadership. They said the SPDC's moves would unlikely lead to any changes in Myanmar's domestic or foreign policies.

    The analysts said they did not detect any power struggle among the current top three leaders -- SPDC Chairman Than Shwe, Vice Chairman and Army Commander in Chief Maung Aye, and Secretary One and national intelligence chief Khin Nyunt.

    ''The changes show the unity and strength of those top three. They still seem to have a tight grip on the government,'' said a retired local politician.

    State media said the SPDC orders, signed by Khin Nyunt, gave no reasons for the dismissal of Secretary Three, Lieutenant General Win Myint, who was widely regarded as the fourth most powerful man in the country.Win Myint was formerly military commander of Myanmar's western region before he joined the SPDC in late 1997. The sacked general was lately chief of Myanmar Economic Holdings Company, a state firm with diverse monopolies in mining, banking, fishery and trading sectors.

    Also sacked was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Military Affairs Lieutenant General Tin Hla. He was head of state-run Myanmar Economic Corporation. Tin Hla, who had supervised economic affairs and interests of the armed forces, is not a member of SPDC. The military has been running the country since 1962. Diplomats said both Win Myint and Tin Hla had long been rumoured to have had personal business connections with the private sector.

    OUT WITH THE OLD

    The SPDC on Sunday announced retirements of five more cabinet ministers, including two deputy premiers -- Vice Admiral Maung Maung Khin, 72, and Lieutenant General Tin Tun, 70.

    Three other affected ministers -- aged around 60, which is the official retirement age -- were Minister for Culture Win Sein, Minister for Cooperatives Aung San, and Minister for Immigration and Population Saw Tun, all former senior army officers. None of five retired ministers affected by the Sunday announcements served as SPDC members.

    Government sources close to the two retired deputy premiers said Maung Maung Khin and Tin Tun had requested permission to quit for health reasons.

    Diplomats speculated that there could be more purges of senior government officials or cabinet members ahead of the fourth anniversary of the formation of the SPDC on November 15.

    The SPDC includes most members of the previous ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) which seized power in 1988 and later changed its name to SPDC in 1997.

    It was not clear when or if the SPDC would name successors of the dismissed and retired officers. Most of the remaining SPDC members are powerful regional army commanders.

    Analysts say among those rumoured as good prospects for promotion are Major General Tin Aung Myint Oo, commander of Myanmar's north east region, and Major General Thein Sein who has been in charge of the military in triangle border areas of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.