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21/11/98: THE AAP NEWS


[In followign news analysis by Bruce Hawke, it probably a mistake
the Burmese military want 51% of seat in Burma Parliament. As we
heard previously from SPDC/SLORC sources, the military want 25%.
Probably, the reporter confused between Indonesia and Burma.
  -- U Ne Oo.]
DATE: 16:38 20-Nov-98 
 ASIA: Intelligence chief consolidates control in 

 By Bruce Hawke 

 RANGOON, Nov 20 DPA - Burma's intelligence chief 
Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt used a recent
 leadership reshuffle to cement his position at 
the head of the most powerful bloc in government, observers

 Under his effective control, the junta - criticised 
around the world for gross human rights abuses - is set to
 embark on a campaign to try to gain legitimacy both 
at home and abroad, analysts say.

 A newly-appointed foreign minister is expected to 
lead an international public relations offensive under Khin
 Nyunt, who is first secretary of the ruling State 
Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

 Inside Burma, Khin Nyunt may be preparing to set up 
a political party to counter the popular opposition group
 of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

 The move could even pave the way for limited 
parliamentary representation - a "sham-ocracy" in the words
 of a foreign banker, where 51 per cent of seats 
would be reserved for the military or military appointees.

 With national strongman General Ne Win now believed 
to be on his death bed and the ailing SPDC chairman
 and prime minister, Senior General Than Shwe, taking 
a limited role in politics, Khin Nyunt has quickly risen
 to the top of the country's hierarchy.

 Khin Nyunt, a protegee of long-time leader Ne Win, 
staged what was widely regarded as a palace coup in
 November last year, when he ousted most of his cabinet 

 Even his greatest threat, army chief General Maung Aye, 
lost his post as deputy defence minister when the
 portfolio was replaced with that of military affairs.

 Khin Nyunt now either chairs or sits on at least 15 
working committees. Though he holds no portfolio, he
 addresses and controls every cabinet meeting. The 
notification of the reshuffle last weekend was signed by
 Khin Nyunt, according to dissident groups.

 His biggest problem has been his lack of standing within 
the army due to his lack of field experience and
 resentment in some quarters over his efforts to build 
closer ties with China.

 To gain a better foothold in the military, Khin Nyunt 
has handed a deputy premiership, one of three such
 posts, to a close associate, Military Affairs Minister 
Lieutenant General Tin Hla.

 Tin Hla played a pivotal role in the brutal repression 
of pro-democracy demonstrators in 1988. He is widely
 held responsible for the military retaking control of 
the streets at the cost of thousands of civilian lives.

 He is now the only serving cabinet minister, apart from 
the prime minister, to also retain an office in the
 military hierarchy and to hold two cabinet portfolios.

 Tin Hla is also quartermaster general, responsible for 
military procurements, the mint and the Directorate
 Defence Industries, which make products ranging from 
kitchen sinks to automatic rifles.

 He further controls the military holding companies, which 
control the lion's share of commerce and are the
 joint-venture partner of choice for foreign investors.

 The fact that Tin Hla is not a member of the official 
supreme body, the SPDC, is no obstacle because the
 council is not especially active in governing the 
country, say Rangoon-based analysts.

 "The SPDC only meets three or four times a year," said 
one Asian diplomat. "The policy and decision-making
 power has moved from the military to the cabinet and 
working committees."

 On September 18, Rangoon announced the formation of a 
16-member political policy committee chaired by
 Khin Nyunt.

 Members include four senior cabinet ministers, the head 
of the Rangoon army regional command and senior
 members of the feared Directorate of Defence Services 
Intelligence, the secret police which is widely accused
 of torture and extra-judicial executions.

 Khin Nyunt also control a personal policy think-tank and 
intelligence organ, the Office of Strategic Studies.

 Exiled Burmese dissident and academic Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe 
believes the new committee is a precursor
 to Khin Nyunt setting up a political party and introducing 
reforms intended to outflank Suu Kyi's National
 League for Democracy, Burma's largest legal opposition party.

 "The move could mean that the junta is preparing to set 
up a political party, using the Union Solidarity and
 Development Association, a government-run civilian mass 
organisation, as a base and at the same time
 accelerate the constitutional drafting process," he 
wrote recently.

 A renewed effort to change the government's image 
internationally is expected to start within the next couple
 of months.

 To kick off the offensive, Ohn Gyaw was dropped as 
foreign minister in the reshuffle in favour of Ambassador
 to Britain Win Aung. "They were very unhappy with his 
performance," said the Yangon-based Asian

 According to Rangoon insiders, Washington-based lobby 
groups had for some time been counselling the
 regime to dump Ohn Gyaw, as his inability to deal with 
the international media competently was a liability to
 the government.

 While Khin Nyunt now appears to be firmly in control 
in Burma, analysts in Rangoon and Bangkok say it
 would be unwise to write off army chief Maung Aye 
quite yet.

 The new foreign minister is likely to have as tough a 
time trying to make the junta look good as his
 predecessor did, while the expected parliamentary 
system as envisioned by Khin Nyunt is not likely to be
 taken too seriously by the rest of the world either.

 DPA ts 

DATE: 16:40 20-Nov-98 
 ASIA: Soldier hand-picked by strongman rises to top of 

 RANGOON, Nov 20 DPA - The head of the Burmese intelligence 
apparatus, Lieutenant General Khin  Nyunt, a close confidante 
of ailing strongman Ne Win, has for some time been considered 
the regime's most  powerful figure.

 He is first secretary of the ruling State Peace 
and Development Committee, head of the feared secret police,
 officially known as the Directorate of Defence Services 
Intelligence, and chief of another intelligence organ
 called the Office of Strategic Studies.

 Kin Nyunt holds no portfolio but attends all cabinet 
meetings, chairs at least 15 working committees and has
 influence in most ministries and powerful allies in 
the army.

 Born on October 11, 1939, he graduated from the 25th 
class of the Officers' Training School in Hmawbie, north
 of the capital, after failing to complete a science 
degree at Rangoon University.

 Khin Nyunt was attached to the 44th light infantry 
division in the early 1980s, becoming tactical commander in
 1982, a year when there was little fighting.

 He was promoted to the rank of colonel and recalled to 
Rangoon in 1983 to reorganise the intelligence
 apparatus after North Korean agents planted a bomb, 
killing 19 people, including four visiting South Korean
 cabinet ministers.

 He was hand-picked for the job by Burmese strongman 
General Ne Win, who is now believed to be very ill
 but still highly influential in the Burmese leadership.

 When the SPDC's predecessor, the State Law and Order 
Restoration Council (SLORC), took power
 following a bloody crackdown on democracy demonstrators 
in which thousands were killed in 1988, Khin
 Nyunt was the council's youngest member at the age of 48.

 He was soon promoted to brigadier general, major and 
lieutenant general, despite having almost no military
 field experience. It was rumoured last month, wrongly 
and perhaps prematurely, that he had been promoted to

 His position as intelligence chief and his relationship 
with Ne Win make him a man of considerable, though
 not unbridled, power.

 Khin Nyunt is largely responsible for the ceasefire 
agreements with have been signed with most of the
 country's insurgent groups, including major opium 
and heroin producers.

 He was also the architect of Burma's controversial 
entry into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
 last year.

 Though he speaks English poorly, he is regarded as 
more sophisticated, pragmatic and worldly than other
 leading figures in isolated Burma.

 He is married with several adult children and has a 
reputation as a workaholic who does not drink, smoke or
 womanise. He also carefully guards his public image 
and nationalist credentials.

 Khin Nyunt, seen by some as having sold Burma out to 
Chinese and Singaporean interests, was furious when
 his son married an ethnic Chinese Burma Airways 
hostess from Singapore earlier this year.

 To distance himself from the union, Khin Nyunt placed 
an advertisement in the government-run New Light of
 Burma newspaper, saying he had disowned his son.

 DPA ts 
Emails: drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx, uneoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
PostMail: Dr U Ne Oo, 18 Shannon Place, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia
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