Khin Nyunt

   (1939- )
   From 1988 to 2003, first secretary (Secretary1) of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC, known before November 1997 as the State Law and Order Restoration Council, or SLORC) and director general of Military Intelligence (MI, also known as the Military Intelligence Service or the Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence, DDSI), one of the most powerful figures in the military junta established on September 18, 1988. After studying at Rangoon (Yangon) University, he completed the course at the Officers' Training School (25th batch) and received a commission in 1960. He was tactical operations commander of the 44th Light Infantry Division when, following the October 1983 Rangoon Incident, in which four members of the South Korean cabinet and other officials were killed in a North Korean bomb blast, Ne Win ordered him to carry out a thorough reorganization of Military Intelligence. In 1984, he was appointed director of MI/DDSI.
   Although Khin Nyunt was appointed Secretary-1 of the SLORC on September 18, 1988, and continued to hold this post when the junta was reorganized as the SPDC in November 1997, attaining the rank of lieutenant-general, he was relieved of this post on August 25, 2003, and appointed prime minister. Most observers saw this as a demotion, placing him outside the junta inner circle. Previously, he had been the SPDC's third-highest-ranking officer, below Chairman Senior General Than Shwe and Vice Chairman General Maung Aye. A protégé of the late leader Ne Win, Khin Nyunt was considered better educated and more sophisticated than his fellow generals in the junta and had a reputation for hard work and an austere lifestyle. His command of Military Intelligence and a vast amount of potentially incriminating data on his fellow officers and civilians made him universally feared and disliked, although his intelligence apparatus apparently failed to forecast the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy in the General Election of May 27, 1990. During the 1990s, foreign observers recognized Khin Nyunt as head of a "Military Intelligence faction" inside the junta that was more receptive to economic reform and opening to the outside world than conservative officers belonging to a rival "Regular Army faction," headed by General Maung Aye. Some argued that he was more willing than other generals to negotiate a political settlement with Aung San Suu Kyi. He promoted close and friendly ties with the People's Republic of China (PRC), which apparently motivated some officers to attempt to assassinate him in 1992 for selling out the country's independence. His role in brokering cease-fire agreements with ethnic minority armed groups beginning in 1989 gave him considerable influence in Burma's border areas, especially among components of the former Communist Party of Burma, and he was prominent in the state-run media as head of numerous committees involved with education, public service, and other matters. A conspicuous promoter of state-sponsored Buddhism, he served in 1998-1999 as patron of the committee responsible for renovating the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, replacing the hti (umbrella) that had been donated to the pagoda in the 19th century by King Mindon. On October 18, 2004, Khin Nyunt was arrested in Rangoon on charges of corruption and attempting to split the armed forces. According to General Thura Shwe Mahn, his actions "could have led to the disintegration of the Tatmadaw and posed extreme danger for the country." He was dismissed from his post as prime minister (his successor was Soe Win) and placed under house arrest. Hundreds of his subordinates in Military Intelligence were arrested, and many others linked to MI were retired or transferred to other posts. In 2005 Khin Nyunt was placed on trial inside Insein Jail and given a 44-year jail sentence, suspended. It is believed he will be kept under house arrest.
   See also Border Area Development; State Peace and Development Council, Internal Dynamics.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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