Khun Sa basher dies
Khun Sa basher dies
Succession crisis looms
The death of Col Gunyawd, who had led the mutiny against warlord Khun Sa in 1995, has brought the problem of finding a successor in his group to a head, according to ceasefire sources in northern Shan State.
Gunyawd, who died yesterday at 19:15 of liver cancer at the Shan State National Army's Headquarters in Hsipaw, a township 46 miles southwest of the northern capital Lashio, left two close associates: Col Zai Yee, 46, Chief of Military Affairs, and Lt-Col Hsengzoom, 66, Chief of Administrative Affairs "to hold the baby", according to an insider source.
"All officers and men are for Zai Yee," he said. "He had been with them through the hot and cold. But the trouble with him is that he is just happy where he is, where he needs to mind only his military business and leaves others to deal with the more complicated political affairs."
Hsengzoom, a native of Taunggyi, joined the resistance in 1959. Known as a fearless and cool fighter among the few who know him well, and as a "paper pusher" among the rest, nobody including himself is sure how he will turn out as a political leader.
Gunyawd, a transplanted native of Panglong, where unity with Burma "Proper" was signed in 1947, on the other hand, had been accomplished professional in this pseudo scientific field. He was holding three concurrent offices at the time of his death:
- Secretary General, Executive Committee, Shan State National Army
- Secretary General, Shan State Peace Council, a joint setup with Shan State Army "North", another ceasefire group
- Secretary General, Shan State Joint Action Committee, founded by the largest political party in Shan State, Shan Nationalities League for Democracy of Khun Tun Oo, SSA "North" and SSNA.
Gunyawd was also well-known for his songs, poems, witty articles and short plays. "Ai Zawk Zarng Pet" (Ai Zawk the trickster), the Shans' first movie to be shown in wide screen theaters in December, was produced by him.
"There might be other dark horses waiting in the wings," said a boyhood friend on the border. "But whoever he is, he must first win Zai Yee's approval."
Gunyawd was born on 22 March 1963 in the village of Hinhay, Mongyai tract, Kehsi township. He joined the Tai Revolutionary Council, later renamed the Shan State Restoration Council, led by the late Gawnzoeng (1926 - 91) in 1984. His mutiny in 1995 broke the backbone of the Mong Tai Army of Khun Sa, Gawnzoeng's successor. Gunyawd is survived by his wife Ying Sita.
His funeral has been scheduled on Saturday, 20 March.