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31 May 2006

NGO Vleeptron asks the Beeb a question

The Myanmar junta's other two momzers
(from BBC News "Burma's hardline generals")

Maung Aye (bottom, archive picture)

Maung Aye is also a career soldier and the second most powerful man in the country.

He is believed to have established strong ties with Burma's many drug lords [traditionally opium, subsequently methamphetamine] in the Golden Triangle while operating as a colonel in the late 1970s and 80s, before he joined the military leadership in 1993.

He has a reputation for ruthlessness and xenophobia, and is also staunchly opposed to allowing Aung San Suu Kyi any future role.

He is also rumoured to be a hard drinker.

Prime Minister Soe Win (top, undated photo)

Lieutenant General Soe Win, 58, is seen a hard-line operator with close links to Than Shwe. He succeeded Khin Nyunt as prime minister in 2004.

Some diplomats and dissidents believe that, as a key figure in the Union Solidarity and Development Association -- the civilian wing of the junta -- he was behind a bloody attack on Aung San Suu Kyi's convoy in the north of the country last year, which led to the opposition leader being taken back into house arrest.

Earlier in his career, he commanded an infantry division which helped crush the democracy party in 1988 following Aung San Suu Kyi's overwhelming victory in national elections.

He joined the Defence Service Academy in 1965, and quickly worked his way up through the military ranks. He joined the junta in 1997, and was appointed as Secretary-2 of the council in February 2003, and Secretary-1 in August of the same year, replacing Khin Nyunt, who became prime minister.


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Hi --

In your excellent and informative "Burma's hardline generals," the 2nd graf says:

"The junta has been led by three generals wielding almost absolute power. But in-fighting and a lack of transparency have generated regular rumours of power struggles at the top."

I am curious about the author's use of "almost." It implies that there exists within Burma an institution of power or authority which is independent of the military junta or has the authentic capacity to challenge the will and acts of the junta to some perceivable or measurable degree.

What might this independent institution be? Or for what other reason did the author use the modifier "almost" to describe the junta's "absolute power"?

If the junta's absolute power is, indeed, only "almost," then that would make a very important news story in itself, a story I would so very much want to read.


Bob Merkin
Northampton Massachusetts USA


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