Aung Gyi, brigadier

   (1919- )
   Close associate of Ne Win who became a prominent opposition figure during 1988. He served in the Burma Defence Army/Burma National Army during World War II and, after the war, in the Fourth Burma Rifles commanded by Ne Win. He was an important figure in the Caretaker Government of 1958-1960 and a member of the Revolutionary Council following the March 2, 1962 coup d'état. Aung Gyi was forced off the Council on February 8, 1963, however, following disagreements with doctrinaire socialists Tin Pe and U Ba Nyein over economic policy. He advocated pragmatic policies with a role for foreign investment, while his opponents adopted an Eastern European model, with disastrous consequences during the 1960s and 1970s. Although he was jailed from 1965 to 1968 and in 1973-1974, he grew wealthy operating a chain of cake shops.
   His four open letters to Ne Win on economic policy, politics, and human rights violations had a great impact on the emerging popular protests of 1988, and he was jailed once again from July 29 to August 25 of that year. Joining in the Aung-Suu-Tin coalition with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin U, he became president of the National League for Democracy (NLD) after the September 18 power seizure by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) but left the NLD after making accusations that Daw Suu Kyi was influenced by elements of the Communist Party of Burma. Never completely trusted by students and other oppositionists, he was quickly eclipsed as a prodemocracy leader by Aung San's daughter. In the General Election of May 27, 1990, his party, the Union Nationals Democracy Party, won a single seat.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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