The Irrawaddy Magazine (June 2011, Vol.19 No.2)

Page 42

Et Tu, General? The careers of Tin Oo and Khin Nyunt, two former spy chiefs who had built intelligence empires, prove that no top leader in Burma is invincible By AUNG ZAW


n order to accurately analyze Burma and the players involved in running the government, one must understand the way that Machiavellian politics can lead to the dramatic rise and sudden fall of the country’s most powerful figures. Nowhere is this more true than with respect to Tin Oo and Khin Nyunt, the two men who successively led the country’s intelligence service from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s. Born in Mudon, Mon State, Tin Oo was an ethnic Mon. He studied until the 10th standard and joined the Burmese army in 1945 when he was only 15 years old—his tall height allowing him to get away with telling the recruiters he was 18. Tin Oo became a platoon commander at the time Burmese and Japanese troops marched into Rangoon after defeating the British troops.

Tin Oo during his days as the second most powerful man in Burma Illustration: Aung LaRt