Who is Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese army?
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Who is Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese army?

According to the Burmese calendar, Saturday  was the Fullmoon Day of Tabaung when customarily the Burmese people build pagodas made of sand on beaches dedicated to the Lord Buddha. Buddha Pujaniya festivals have been held at pagodas, stupas and temples throughout Burma.

The Burmese junta or State Peace and Development Council offered religious titles to venerable members of the Sangha at home and abroad, nuns and laypersons on Saturday.  The SPDC issued Notification No. 1/2011 of SPDC on 4 January to announce the winners of religious titles.

The ceremony was not merely a religious traditional practice but to show who are on top positions of the ruling junta. The state New Light of Myanmar newspaper has to publish the ceremony as the most important cover story on this traditional day. As usual, the paper headline says Head of State Senior General Than Shwe, wife Daw Kyaing Kyaing attend ceremony to confer religious titles on venerable Sayadaws (Senior Monks).”

The ceremony highlights who is the most powerful or who is running the country at the top job. Then, as the New Light of Myanmar mentions, the people understand clearly that although there is an elected body, Senior General Than Shwe is above the legislative body and the president.

Afterward, the paper has to publish the names of the high-ranking officials in accordance with their power status based on seniority.  So, observers can easily see who the powerful bureaucrats of the country are.

Also present at the occasion were Vice-Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Deputy Commander-in- Chief of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief (Army) Vice-Senior General Maung Aye and wife Daw Mya Mya San, Member of the State Peace and Development Council Thura U Shwe Mann and wife Daw Khin Lay Thet, Prime Minister U Thein Sein and wife Daw Khin Khin Win, Secretary- 1 of the State Peace and Development Council Thiha Thura U Tin Aung Myint Oo and wife Daw Khin Saw Hnin, Member of the State Peace and Development Council U Tin Aye, General Min Aung Hlaing of the Ministry of Defence and wife Daw Kyu Kyu Hla, Commander-in-Chief (Navy) Vice-Admiral Nyan Tun, Commander-in-Chief (Air) Lt-Gen Myat Hein, senior military officers of the Ministry of Defence and their wives, the commander of Nay Pyi Taw Command and wife, ministers and their wives, the Attorney-General, the Auditor-General, the Chairman of Civil Service Selection and Training Board, deputy ministers, senior military officers and departmental heads.

Thus, Than Shwe is in status quo as ‘Head of State’. On the other hand, people become aware of the right-hand man of Than Shwe. As the New Light of Myanmar mentions, General Min Aung Hlaing of the Ministry of Defence becomes Than Shwe’s choice for commander-in chief of the armed forces among the uniformed generals.

The newspaper has officially confirmed for the first time in the news General Min Aung Hlaing was accompanying Senior General Than Shwe inspecting the 48th Gem and Precious Stones Emporium held in Nay-pyi-daw on March 10, 2011.

Unofficial hearsay said Lieutenant General “Thura” Myint Aung, who previously served as the adjutant general, was  to be commander-in chief of the armed forces. Myint Aung, who was on a list to be appointed defense minister in February has reportedly declined the cabinet post and was placed under house arrest in Naypidaw. He refused the ministerial position because he believed it as a downgrading.

Myint Aung graduated from the Defense Services Academy (DSA) Intake 18 while Min Aung Hlaing was from DSA Intake 19. So, Myint Aung is one year senior to Min Aung Hlaing. Sources in Burma Armed Forces agree that Myint Aung was admired and cherished among his peers and subordinates while Min Aung Hlaing is generally seen as “supercilious.”

Thus, observers believe that there may be disagreement among military privileged category in regard to the promotion of commander-in chief post.