The selection of Lt-Gen Myint Swe, long-time protégé of “retired” Senior General Than Shwe and his wife Daw Kyaing Kyaing, once more is a reminder that the former dictator is still very active behind the scenes, said a member of the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) delegation that met its Naypyitaw counterpart in May.
He had then asked a prominent member of the government’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC) whether it was true Vice President #1 Tin Aung Myint Oo had retired, for which he received the answer in the affirmative. “His resignation has not been announced,” he explained. “Because according to (Article 73 of) the constitution, his successor has to be elected within 7 days by the parliament when it is in session, and within 21 days when it is not in session.”
Asked who was likely to succeed Tin Aung Myint Oo, the UPWC member who is also a union minister, replied: “I don’t know for sure. But if you are asking the Armed Forces chief (meaning Than Shwe), it’ll be U Myint Swe. But if you are asking the Defense chief (meaning Vice Senior General Min Aung Hlaing), it’ll be U Tin Aye. Meanwhile, the President would say Lt-Gen Hla Htay Win.”
U Myint Swe, former chief of Bureau of Special Operations (BSO) # 5 that oversees 2 regional commands: Rangoon and Naypyitaw, has been serving as Chief Minister of Rangoon Regional Government; U Tin Aye, former Lt-Gen chief of armaments industry, as Chairman of Union Election Commission and Lt-Gen Hla Htay Win, as armed forces chief of staff.
Recounting the conversation, the Shan delegation member said, “It’s a sure indicator who’s directing the whole show behind the curtains.”
Senior General Than Shwe, who had been head of the ruling military council since 1992, officially retired in March last year, after he officially handed over power to ex-general U Thein Sein. But few observers believe he has really withdrawn from running the country. “Until he’s dead, we cannot be sure the new era for the country has indeed come,” said an ethnic MP (not Shan) last Monday.