Taxi Driver U Nay Win, A True Citizen

By Htun Htun 31 January 2017

U Ko Ni, prominent lawyer and legal advisor to National League for Democracy (NLD), was assassinated by a gunman who shot him in the head at close range in front of CCTV cameras, security police and crowds of people outside Rangoon International Airport Sunday evening.

Taxi drivers who saw the shooting chased after the assassin, and they managed to catch him, but at a cost—a life.

U Nay Win, 48, knew the assassin had a gun. But, he was at the front of the crowd chasing after him. Not many men would do this when they have a wife and three children waiting for them at home, the youngest just 45 days old.

But U Nay Win did, and when the fleeing gunman turned around and fired at him, it cost him his life.

He is survived by his family in Mingalardon Township’s Kyan Kin Su ward: a wife and three boys, aged seven, four, and an infant whose name had not yet been decided.

U Nay Win’s widow, Ma Su Thet Khaing, is grief-stricken and sad for her boys who are fatherless now, but proud of what her husband did and what he died for.

“I’ll impress upon my children the spirit of their father—to be helpful to anyone and to be good citizens,” she said.

U Nay Win was born in Rangoon’s Latha Township and third son in a family of Chinese descent. He married Ma Su Thet Khaing eight years ago.

He was quick-tempered when faced with injustice and was not hesitant to intervene in such cases, a tendency from which his family had to frequently dissuade him.

“The gunman was running and aiming back [at the crowd chasing after him]. Ko Nay Win joined us and I warned him that he had a gun,” said Ko Thiha, one of those who involved in the chase.

“As Ko Nay Win threw a brick at him, [the gunman] turned around and shot him, and he was hit,” he said.

“When the gunman started running, I, a taxi driver and a lieutenant [from the Burma Army] chased after him. He was not far from us. I saw the lieutenant aiming at the gunman with his gun. Then the gunman aimed him back and said, ‘I will shoot back.’ I don’t know why that lieutenant didn’t shoot him,” he added.

The gunman stopped a taxi at gunpoint, and got in. But the other taxi drivers in pursuit surrounded the car and stopped it from moving.

“As the gunman got in the taxi, one of us threw a stone at him. He was hit in the face. We pulled him out and punched him. Then, police arrived, fired two shots in the air and asked us to disperse,” said Ko Thiha.

U Nay Win was shot in the bladder, and died on the way to the hospital.

Ma Su Thet Khaing was in shock once she was informed of the shooting.

“I didn’t believe he was shot. I thought, how it could be? I could not find a reason he would get shot at place like the airport, and in daytime. I went to [the hospital’s] emergency unit, and I was told that he had died,” said Ma Su Thet Khaing, weeping.

U Nay Win was known to speak abruptly, but was helpful and loved joking around, said Ma Pan Ei Mon, his sister-in-law.

U Nay Win worked as a volunteer for the Yangon Bus Service, offering free rides for commuters. He was also a member of Mingalardon Township’s local National League for Democracy chapter.

He was the family’s primary breadwinner, and his death comes as a harsh blow to them.

“I think his death was untimely. I have a long way to go for my children. I’ll sell things [to make a living] and struggle for the children’s sake,” said Ma Su Thet Khaing.

Government authorities, including the Rangoon Division chief minister U Phyo Min Thein, the divisional parliament speaker and commander of Rangoon Command Maj-Gen Myo Zaw Thein, comforted the victim’s family.

Maj-Gen Myo Zaw Thein told Ma Su Thet Khaing: “We are proud of his actions. You may regard me as your brother and if you need any help, please let me know.”

Civil society organizations, businessmen and individual donors have visited Ma Su Thet Khaing and made contributions for the family since Sunday night. Banks have opened accounts for donation and on Tuesday afternoon, donations had amounted to more than 40 million kyats (US$29,700).

The Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS) has said it would take responsibility for schooling of U Nay Win’s three children.

When asked about the killer, Ma Su Thet Khaing said she had nothing to say, but added that he would reap what he had sowed.

“I won’t intervene in the government authorities’ response regarding the gunman. And I am not in a position to intervene. The authorities will find the truth. I think they will pay greater attention since it was not a personal case, and it happened in a public place,” she said.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko