Internal and External Opposition Threatening Tatmadaw: Army Chief

By Htet Naing Zaw 13 December 2018

NAYPYITAW—Myanmar’s army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing has warned that internal and external opposition elements and some organizations are resorting to various ways of restricting the role the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) is playing in the country.

“They are even attempting to break up the Tatmadaw,” said the army chief in his address at the graduation of the 20th intake of students at the Defense Services Technological Academy in Mandalay Region’s Pyin Oo Lwin on Wednesday.

He did not, however, clarify which particular organizations are doing so.

The Tatmadaw has had to take a role in the politics of the country, the army chief said, due to the stances of armed organizations that were born with independence in Myanmar in 1948.

“The Tatmadaw has to take part in the political leadership role to prevent the multi-party democracy, which is desired by the people, from getting lost as the country has not been able to fully restore rule of law and stability,” he said.

Reiterating his ambition of establishing a standard army, he also highlighted the military’s role in national defense.

There have been international examples that show military break-ups always lead to political, economic and social failures, thereby contributing to insecurity in the lives and property of the public as well as in national sovereignty and territorial integrity, added the army chief.

Military-civil relations analyst U Khin Zaw Win said that the army chief’s speech was just a formality which successive military leaders have been giving since the time of the late dictator Gen. Ne Win who staged the 1962 coup.

“They are used to speaking like that. In my view, nobody inside or outside the country is trying to break [the Tatmadaw] up. I don’t think so. Myanmar is confronted by many challenges, but I don’t think any of them are targeted at the Tatmadaw,” he said.

However, there have been calls from international rights groups to refer Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing to the International Criminal Court in response to allegations of human rights violations committed by the military in northern Rakhine State.

“The Tatmadaw has concerns. It is concerned that a new civil war may break out. They have concerns because of past events. That’s the reason behind such a speech,” said U Thein Tun Oo, executive director of Thayninga Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank formed by ex-Tatmadaw members.