Interesting story behind the article ‘Who will be a new military chief?’

Writer: 
Nay Tun Naing

(1)

An article was published on September 16 by the 7 Day News Journal as a cover story.

It was written by Aung Htet Paing and titled ‘Who will be the new Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services?’

The pseudonym Aung Htet Paing has never been seen in the 7 Day’s opinion pieces of politics and military.

Coincidently, the article was published at a time when the military held its regular meeting which is held once every four months.

The writer might not be from the military. However, he seems the one closed to the military, knowing ins and outs of the military affairs.

He did not rely on the firm news sources for his article.

Nevertheless, many readers had attention on it. What is more, the thing behind the article is more interesting.

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He highlighted three main ideas in forecasting who will be the next after Senior General Min Aung Hlaing as the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services. He called the three main ideas as peculiar factors.

The first fact is that General Khin Aung Myint, the Commander-in- Chief of Defense Service (Air) currently was promoted to the third leader of the army. According to the Tatmadaw tradition, the top military positions are designated only by the officers of the army division. But in the time of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, an officer from the air forces was appointed as the special operation coordinator of (Army, Air and Navy). It is a strange thing.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has developed joint trainings between Army, Navy and Air recently. Also, the Army and the Air Force have performed joint trainings. He had purchased new fighters for the Air Force in these years. It obviously means the Myanmar military is preparing to defend the external attack. The writer raised a question if there is the external enemy for Myanmar.

Then, the writer linked the first and second factors.

The second peculiarity is the officer from the army (Air Force Defence), Lt Gen. Sein Win became the Minister of Defense.

The writer approached Lt. Gen. Sein Win on his constructive point of view.

The writer wrote the third peculiarity. It means the next military chief of defense services after Senior General Min Aung Hlaing can be predicted from these shuffles, Aung Htet Paing said.

Now, the answer is very clear. Based on the first and second, the next military chief will be related with the two who were involved in reshuffle.

Then, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Vice-Senior General Soe Win and Head of Military Security Affairs Lt-Gen Mya Tun Oo cannot be the next commander in chief. The writer hinted that those two generals are the most popular persons for the highest position currently.

However, he also wrote that those two generals can become the commander in chief on the other hand.

(3)

According to the writer, there are only five senior generals after Senior General Min Aung Hlaing if retired generals are left out of the list.

The five senior generals include Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Vice-Senior General Soe Win, Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services (Air) General Khin Aung Myint, the Minister of Home Affairs Lt-Gen Ko Ko, Chief of Staff (Army) Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, Head of Military Security Affairs Lt-Gen Mya Tun Oo and Chief of Bureau of Special Operations Lt-Gen Yar Pyae.

Among those senior generals, the one who concluded the Intake 19 together with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing was Lt-Gen Ko Ko and he would retire from his career, the writer said. General Khin Aung Myint who reached the third leader is the one who concluded the intake 20 and in 2017 he will be 60 years. For this, the writer forecasted that there can be only two persons for the new military chief.

The two he mentioned are Vice-Senior General Soe Win and Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe. Both are the DSA 22th Intake.

Writer Aung Htet Paing pointed that those transferred to the civil sector have never been the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services. Therefore, Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, who is the union minister of border affairs ministry, cannot be the commander in chief.

He continued that Lt-Gen Mya Tun Oo is the 25th Intake of the DSA. He is junior compared to Vice-Senior Gen Soe Win and Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe.

The writer left out Lt-Gen Yar Pyae from the popularity list to become the military chief despite of the DSA 22th Intake for he became the chief staff of the BSO recently. That means his position is still new and junior.

For this, Vice-Senior General Soe Win, the deputy commander-in-chief of defence services, is promising to become the military chief.

Vice-Senior General Soe Win has no children and no business. The writer defined him as a doctrinaire personnel and he was admired in the military. He is a true soldier.  The writer forecasted that Vice-Senior General Soe Win won’t stay again in the political ground once he has retired from the military.

The writer also predicted that Vice-Senior Gen. Soe Win will become the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services in 2016; Lt. Gen Mya Tun Oo as the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services and one out of the two Lt. generals will be the Minister of Home Affairs.

(4)

The relationship behind the article “Who will be a new military chief?” will be a very interesting. When the article is read overall, three subjective points of views of the writer can be seen.

The first point is that Senior General Min Aung Hlaing who will be 60 years old in 2016 is allowed to retire from his career.

The writer said that the Constitution states the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services as service personnel, since service personnel have to retire at the age of 60.

On the contrary, the chapter of Fundamental Principles of the Union and the chapter of Defence Services described in the Constitution do not mention that the commander-in-chief as the service personnel.

According to the Constitution, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has to decide himself whether to retire or not since the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services is not defined as the service personnel and the chief commander independently manage the military affairs according to the basic principles of the Constitution of the Union.

Thus, the first opinion of the writer Aung Htet Paing is impossible for certainty. We have to think in other way if he gave hints.

The second opinion of the writer is about the assignment of an officer from Defense Services (Air) and a Chief of Staff of Air Defense for the top positions of military.

He wrote the fact, which they were assigned in accordance with the management of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, obviously. He honored Lt-Gen Sein Win while writing about General Khin Aung Myint, Commander in Chief (Air) and Lt-Gen Sein Win, Chief of Staff of Air Defense who becomes the Minister of Defense Services.

He described that even those who never describe goodwill about the military mention Lt-Gen Sein Win as a good person.

At this point, he described “Even U Aung Kyaw Zaw writing about ethnic affairs said General Sein Win is a good person.”

However, the writer did not mention who Aung Kyaw Zaw was. Aung Kyaw Zaw is a former observer of military affairs and political affairs. No one can guarantee whether Aung Kyaw Zaw truly said or not.

This is a wrong fact of the writer. But only the writer would know about why he praised one highly, out of two.

The third view of the writer is predicting who the new Commander in Chief of Defense Services would be.

There are two points for this part. The first one is he excluded Vice-Senior General Soe Win, who is very popular for new Commander in Chief position, and Lt-Gen Mya Htun Oo, instead he wrote from a new point of view that the other one except these two might become the new Commander in Chief of Defense Services. In the other part, he withdrew the assuming of the other person, and described Vice-Senior General Soe Win might be the one. Yet he revealed that this could be possible only if the next President agrees with.

Another unusual point is his exclusion of Lt-Gen Yar Pyae, who is the same batch with Vice Senior General Soe Win and Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe.

Lt-Gen Yar Pyae is not a junior. After serving consecutively as Commander, Judge Advocate-General, Chief of Armed Forces Training, he has close ties with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. When Senior General Min Aung Hlaing was Chief of Bureau of Special Operations, Lt-Gen Yar Pyae cooperated with him as a Commander for a long time. He does not have a bad reputation too.

Therefore, it is questionable concerning the exclusion of Lt-Gen Yar Pyae from people with potential for new Commander in Chief of Defense Services.

By looking at this, the wirter Aung Htet Paing wrote the article on purpose.

A question appears that if his purpose is to ruin the unity of military or to misinform the political leaders, political parties and political observers

(5)

Who is the writer? It is very interesting. There is no one with the name “Aung Htet Paing” in 7 Day Media’s editors and journalists, and he did not write articles in 7 Day formerly.

When Deputy Chief Editor of 7Day, Ar Man, was officially asked for this, he replied that Aung Htet Paing is a freelance writer.

Deputy Chief Editor of 7Day said that he used to send the articles to 7Day Media before, but now, he changed his name. As he is an expert of military and political affairs, he mostly writes about politics and his articles are edited by political editors of 7Day Media as well as the chiefs, Ar Man added.

Then, more interesting facts appear. “Who will be the new Commander in Chief of Defense Services?” is the article sent by a freelancer. The time of this article is coincided with the time of four-month regular meeting of the military. The article includes a purpose with direct effect on something. The article has a target.

Other than the writer’s purpose, his opinions where come from can be assessed. There are two possibilities. The first one is from some officials of the President Office and some close people. The second possibility is from some elements of Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) and some people close to the MPC.

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It is clear that why it can tell the opinion derives from some officials of the President Office and some people close to the MPC.

There are news that politics section editor of 7Day Media, Aye Thu San, is close to Union Minister Ye Htut, the Ministry of Information, as well as the President’s spokesperson. Aye Thu San includes in the Facebook Friend List of Ye Htut, in which only 117 people contain. It can be said that some of her opinions in articles like “Female Bodyguard of the President” and others come from Ye Htut and the President Office.

It is not known whether the article “Who will be the new Commander in Chief of Defense Services?” is edited by Aye Thu San or not. The writing style of this article is not hers. The article was sent from outside so the sender of the article might be a close person to the President Office.

A further unusual point is “Who will be the new Commander in Chief of Defense Services?” was published on September 16 7Day News Journal. On the same day, the article was uploaded by a Facebook account “Kyeyhmon Newspaper”, and via this “Kyeyhmon Newspaper” account, Lower House MP, Ye Htun share this article on his page.

After two hours of Ye Htun’s share, Union Minister Ye Htut explained that the article was not from Kyeyhmon Newspaper.

“Not Kyeyhmon daily. It is 7Day,” was Ye Htut’s comment, which was the first comment written in a short time under the shared post by Ye Htun.

It seems that Ye Htut wants to clarify the opinions of the article does not come from the ministry of information.

However, it is questionable that why someone likes Ye Htut, who is clever concerning political affairs, quickly explained like that.

(7)

The next part is whether it is the opinion from some elements of MPC or their close people.

Political observers assume that political views of 7Day and The Voice have MPC’s opinions.

In last July, the article “90,000 Ruddy Shelducks’ Parliament and Myanmar Political Affairs” by Aik Ngal published in The Voice and other articles by this writer show where these opinions come from.

That article also appeared in the right time.

In the last week of June, the 7Day carried an article written by Union Minister Aung Min of the President Office as well as the leader of MPC.

The translated version of the article “Seize the Moment for Peace” which was said to be written by Aung Min in the US’s Foreign Policy Magazine, printed in June 27th 7Day Newspaper.

In summary, the article is pressuring the ethnic armed groups, who are seeking their rights to sign the NCA faster.

Concerning the article, there were rumors that the original English version was written by a young person in a top level of MPC and Myanmar version was translated by Kyaw Win. That was because Myanmar translation of the article included terms usually used only by Kyaw Win.

Likewise, rumors spread about 7Day’s pressured to describe Myanmar translation of Aung Min’s article.

Kyaw Win and the 7Day clarified the rumors. Their clarifications were mentioned in Myanmar Thandawsint Journal (Herald)

Kyaw Win denied his translation of that article.

The 7Day clarified that they were not pressured to describe the article, and concerning an article, MPC office told them there was a translated article by Aung Min whether they wanted to use, so they published it as the readers should read a responsible person’s clarification in accordance with peace affairs.

In that place, the use of international media at the right timing by MPC and its leaders – Union Minister Soe Thein of the President Office and Aung Min, is noticeable.

U Aung Min wrote articles in Foreign Policy in order to put pressure on ethnic armed organizations while Soe Thein and Dr Thant Myint Oo usually wrote articles in the New York Times to protect Myanmar reform process from gradually deteriorating. In the initial stage, U Soe Thein wrote articles alone, but later U Aung Min and Dr Thant Myint Oo took part in the writing of the articles.

The 7 Day newspaper usually carries most articles they wrote in New York Times after being translated from English into Myanmar.  The 7 Day used the article of U Aung Min translated by the MPC. The translation piece was published in the 7 Day newspaper.

The article about “Who will become a new Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services?” is almost in accord with views of some elements of the MPC and some members. The 7 Day carrying this article happened at the same time is interesting.

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The context and approaching forms of the author will be related with a careful thinking.

When thinking about the articles as to Tatmadaw, two kinds appear. The first kind is that Tatmadaw will give out its information. The second is that those wishing to play a political game will give out misinformation so as to manipulate Tatamadaw. Only those close to the government can do it, but the oppositions cannot.

Aung Htet Paing’s article is in conformity with the second kind. This article aimed at removing Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and substituting Vice-Senior General Soe Win. A main core of those trying to play a political game is behind this article.

Another writer who is in conformity with the second kind is writing pieces in Tomorrow Weekly Journal and his pen name is Let Hsaung Htet.

Aung Htet Paing writing in the 7 Day News Journal and Let Hsaung Htet writing in Tomorrow Weekly Journal are very similar in their opinions and approaches in some points of the articles. I don’t want to mean these two writers as one person, but those who want to play a political game behind these two writers are the same in their opinions.

Regarding the articles of Let Hsaung Htet, it can be known by reading “President Thein Sein Sein is two years and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing three years” and “Possible political predictions beyond 2015”.

(9)

Let Hsaung Htet hinted in his article “President Thein Sein Sein is two years and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing three years” that If Tatmadaw nominated U Thein Sein as a presidential candidate, he would remain as a president with the supporting votes of military representatives, those of ethnic parties close to the government and those of small parties influenced by Tatmadaw.  

But U Thein Sein can retire from his presidential career as he is not in good health after discharging duties for two years. Therefore the president post will have been left vacant. At this time, Tatmadaw will nominate Senior General Min Aung Hlaing as a president. According to the vote situation, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing will take the president office during the remaining presidential term of three years, Let Hsaung Htet wrote in his article.

Similarly, Let Hsaung Htet wrote in his article about “Possible political predictions beyond 2015” that power would be entrusted to Tatmadaw.

A coalition government combined with ethnic parties and the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party beyond 2015. U Soe Thein and U Aung Min trying to sign the NCA are left and right arms of President Thein Sein. The MPC led by U Aung Min and ethnic armed organizations are now trying to sign the NCA, but it has reached a deadlock. Possible military operations may be launched on the ethnic armed organizations exclusive of the NCA as an ideal example, Let Hsaung Htet wrote.

Let Hsaung Htet further wrote that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Tatmadaw would be required to build mutual understanding as to the Constitution and 25 seats of military representatives and it will remain a political crisis.  

  If the 2015 multi-party democracy general election is not finished peacefully and instability and riots may arise, the president will entrust the power to the Tatmadaw according to Article 418 prescribed in the Constitution. At that time, except the president and the vice-president, the commander-in-chief will have the right to revoke the parliament, the government and judicial sector.

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It can be supposed that Let Hsaung Htet tried to play a political game by giving misinformation. Both of the articles written by Let Hsaung Htet gave hinted that Tatmadaw would seize power in a direct and an indirect ways beyond 2015.

But his first subjective opinion on President Thein Sein, two years and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, three years is not possible. It is not easy to entrust power to Tatmadaw according to Article 418 prescribed in the Constitution.    

There is another thing. There will be wide-ranging discussions about section 418 if opportunists try to create unrests, instigations, instability and riots during the election period. Only a handful of people who want to stick to the country’s power may do it. The opposition groups have no ability to do so.

An interesting point is the view behind columnist Let Hsaung Htet. This view may be linked with some elements from the MPC.

The reason is that both famous political comedian Zar Ga Nar and Zaw Thet Htwe from Tomorrow news journal have a close tie with the elements from the MPC.

It is a coincidence that Hla Maung Shwe who is a member of the MPC posted the postponement of elections after Thai military coup on his facebook, on September 17.

The post read: “I have read BBC news about Thailand. In May, 2014, the military coup may take one and half years (Thailand is assumed to hold the elections in October, 2015). According to this news, it may take longer time. My assumption is wrong. Let’s continue monitoring it.”

Some people who better know the views of some elements from the MPC raised a question over his post that which kind of political playing card is the MPC preparing to use.

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It is very interesting that which kind of political playing card the MPC is preparing to use. At the same time, the political tricks of a handful of those who don’t want to give up power are also interesting.

The possible political playing card is the Union Election Commission. At this crucial juncture, why did the UEC’s chair say that 30 percent of voter lists will be true? There may be hindrances to the holding of election if there are many errors in voter lists. It amounts to creating a political crisis.

The MPC’s effort to reach the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement will not materialize. It cannot be said that it is nationwide if the NCA is signed without the inclusion of big ethnic armed groups including Shan and Kayin. It cannot be entitled the “NCA”. It can be said that the MPC’s effort has failed if there is no all inclusion in the NCA.

The second point is that the government did not make tough response to the western groups and the superpowers which are close to the MPC. But now the government opposed them decisively.  

On September 15, eight foreign embassies including the US, UK, France, Norway and Japan issued a joint statement about their concerns over the November 8 elections. On September 17, Myanmar’s foreign affairs ministry also released an announcement, strongly condemning the points described in the joint statement. Then, U Ye Htut, Union information minister and presidential spokesperson strongly opposed the joint statement by sharing it via his facebook.

 It becomes a major blow to the MPC.

I have covered stories about the MPC before. The MPC’s step is the exactly same as that done by the Military Intelligence (MI) which existed from 1988/1990 to 2004.

The same step is dissidents are roped into becoming their members by giving incentives. Another point is both sides use forced power even in minor cases. And there is no transparency in the use of funds. They also try to create manipulation and rifts by putting their elements in the dissident groups and organizations. And they misinform people by using media to be complicated.

Some people criticize that the works done by some elements from the MPC over past four years are exactly the same as that done by the MI. So many questions arise that the MPC is going to collapse like the MI in 2004.

But the MPC is making efforts for its continued survival.

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Clear distinct views can be seen in the articles appeared in the Voice, the 7 Day and Tomorrow journal over past two years, which have close relations with elements from the MPC.

A nearest example is high tensions in parliament and the ousting of Thura Shwe Mann. There were many articles that severely and directly attacked Thura Shwe Mann before the removal of him as co-chair of the Union Solidarity and Development Party.

At the same time, some elements from the MPC and those close to them spread rumours.  

Especially, the opinions of the articles columnist Ike Nge from the Voice and columnist Let Hsaung Htet from Tomorrow may be assessed.

A new target of a group that does not want to lose the power has emerged after the removal of Thura Shwe Mann. The article “Who will be the new military chief?” may be a challenge to the army.

On September 18, the news appeared that the commander-in-chief and the Tatmadaw have been in stable. Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said in a meeting that the army would be free and fair in the upcoming elections, and he wants to see the same situation for the country as a whole.

Anyway, the next step of those who want to continue sticking to power and Myanmar political climate is very interesting.