Burma’s Police Chief Retires

By Tin Htet Paing 27 April 2017

RANGOON — After more than a decade serving the force, Burma’s police chief Maj-Gen Zaw Win announced his retirement on Wednesday.

He made the announcement that he would step down next month at the police force headquarters in the capital Naypyidaw. It came three years and nine months after he was promoted to chief by then President U Thein Sein.

Maj-Gen Zaw Win said he was transferred from the army to become deputy chief in the force in 2004. His successor has not yet been revealed.

He tried to reform the force to become “a dignified institution with professional and skilled members,” he said in the announcement, adding that the reform process would “never end and never be enough.”

“The reform mainly depends on a genuine desire for change at an individual level,” he said.

Despite efforts to improve the force, including training from the European Union that began in 2014, it still struggles to secure public trust.

The institution, which comes under home affairs, one of three military-controlled ministries, has been criticized because of its brutal crackdowns on protests.

It has also attracted criticism for failing to uncover or arrest perpetrators of several high-profile murder cases including a 2016 quadruple murder in Rangoon’s Mingalardon Township, while Aung Win Khaing, one of the suspects in the assassination of the prominent lawyer U Ko Ni, remains at large.

In October last year, a series of attacks on the force’s border guard outposts near Bangladesh in northern Arakan State led to a resumed crisis affecting Muslim Rohingya in the region.

In the same month, the police started to draft the first National Crime Prevention Strategy to reduce crimes and violence across the country with the assistance of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

During a workshop for the crime prevention strategy in late March, Maj-Gen Zaw Win recognized that crime prevention efforts “had fallen behind” in Burma due to the country’s political history and “what [the police force] has been doing so far is not enough.”

Local media has reported that Maj-Gen Zaw Win will continue as an adviser to the Home Affairs Ministry for one year after his retirement. The Irrawaddy was unable to confirm this at time reporting.