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Despotism Led To PM's Arrest Says Burmese Regime

Despotism Led To PM's Arrest Says Burmese Regime

by Richard S. Ehrlich

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Human enslavement, crimes involving jade and pearls, plus bribery and military insubordination along the Burma-China border led to the arrest of Burma's prime minister along with other despots, the Burmese regime said.

"As the [Burma-China] border area Immigration Supervisory Body was composed of members of the Military Intelligence, and ministries of Immigration, Home Affairs and Finance and Revenue, all military and civil service personnel involved were dismissed so that identical legal action could be taken against them at the same time," Burma's military government said.

"Former Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt is culpable...He violated tatmadaw [military] discipline by his insubordination," the government said in a lengthy published explanation of why he was suddenly ousted and placed under house arrest on Oct. 19.

"Secondly, he is involved in bribery and corruption and is responsible...and his family is involved in bribery and corruption," the announcement in government-controlled media said.

The vivid description of criminal activity published in Burmese and English language media may be setting the stage for several dramatic show trials and convictions.

Buddhist-majority Burma, also known as Myanmar, is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia and is ruled by an unelected State Peace and Development Council -- a military junta.

The description of official crimes was voiced by one of the junta's leading members, Gen. Thura Shwe Mann, and appeared in the Sunday (Nov. 7) issue of the government-controlled New Light of Myanmar newspaper, and in Burmese-language daily newspapers.

"When the case was slowly unveiled, it was found to be beyond imagination," said Gen. Mann, who is now number three in the ruling hierarchy.

"In some cases, individuals had to sell themselves," Gen. Mann added without elaboration, possibly hinting at an illegal sex racket along the Burma-China border where illegal prostitution is rife.

The dreaded, abusive Directorate of Military Intelligence, which Khin Nyunt ran for 20 years, was immediately disbanded when he was arrested because he allegedly manipulated its personnel to enrich himself and his family.

"At Muse, one of the border towns where border trade is conducted, the government uncovered a bribery and corruption case involving billions of kyats [millions of dollars] by service personnel," Gen. Mann said.

Muse is the main border crossing linking northeast Burma's opium-rich Golden Triangle zone with southern China's booming Yunnan province, and is a freewheeling stopover point for traders and travelers.

"Evidence" in the unfolding case included a massive "forty-two tons of jade and 1,300 pearls, the value of which is yet to be assessed," Gen. Mann's official report said.

At least 186 "personnel from the military" plus three civil servants were "given penalties" for crimes involving just the jade and pearls, Gen. Mann said.

Gen. Khin Nyunt had to be arrested because, as prime minister, his extensive corruption was "leading to the disintegration of the tatmadaw [military]," Gen. Mann said.

"Please do not be afraid but continue to do, within the law, what you have to do. We, on our part, will render the necessary help," Gen. Mann told the nation.

"We are interrogating the military intelligence officers dismissed from the military. Interrogations in other departments are also going on."

Before being busted, Khin Nyunt was among the top three in power.

His son, Ye Naing Win, owned an internet server, Bagan Cybertech, and was arrested along with other family members.

Bagan Cybertech leased a satellite transponder from Shinawatra Satellite, a company partly controlled by the family of Thailand's Prime Minister Shinawatra.

Burma is friendly with many of its Asian neighbors, including China, Thailand, Singapore and India, but is harshly critical of Washington because U.S.-led sanctions caused the impoverished nation's economy to deteriorate further.

America imposed sanctions on Burma in an unsuccessful effort to end the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, the world's most famous political prisoner, whose National League for Democracy party won a landslide election victory in 1990 but was forbidden by the military from forming a new government.


Richard S. Ehrlich, a freelance journalist who has reported news from Asia for the past 26 years, is co-author of the non-fiction book, "HELLO MY BIG BIG HONEY!" -- Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews. His web page is

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