Military Warns State Counselor on Security After Weapons Haul

By Htet Naing Zaw 16 October 2017

NAYPYITAW — The military leadership has warned State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi over her security arrangements and she has replied that she would take extra caution.

“As far as I’m concerned, the military has constantly warned about her security, and she has replied to the military that she would exercise caution,” U Khin Maung Win, the chairman of the Lower House Judicial and Legal Affairs Committee told The Irrawaddy.

On Sunday evening, Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, ACE Company chairman and the son of sports minister under U Thein Sein’s administration U Tint San, and two ACE employees were detained before boarding a Yangon-bound Myanmar National Airline flight for illegal possession of firearms and illicit drugs, leading to public concerns about the security of the country’s political leaders.

Police found 12 WY tablets, 1.5 grams of methamphetamine, two pistols and 72 bullets in U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San’s backpack, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Another five pistols and 804 bullets were found in U Phyo Ko Ko Tin San’s room at Naypyitaw’s ACE Hotel, and nine more pistols and 892 bullets were found in the room of one of the ACE staff members on Sunday evening.

“Tatmadaw also has the things [security apparatus] that we have. They have warned about her security. And Daw Suu also agrees to take caution with her movements,” said U Khin Maung Win, who is also a lawmaker representing Yangon’s Lanmadaw Township.

U Zaw Htay, the spokesperson of the government and closest government official of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that security has been increasingly tightened for her since 2016 after her name appeared on a hit list sent by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group to police in Malaysia.

“We’ve arranged considerable security for her since that time. I can’t tell you certain things, but there are also undercover officers,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Police Colonel Zaw Khin Aung, the chief of Naypyitaw Police Force, believes that the seizure of firearms is not directly related to security of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“There is nothing to worry about. We take full responsibility for her safety,” he told the reporters in Naypyitaw on Monday.

Upper House MP U Thein Swe, who has served as a security officer for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for many years, is worried about her safety because the State Counselor cares about work much more than her safety.

“I’m concerned about her safety because of the arms seizure. So, I want concerned authorities to give greater attention to her security. And I also want to urge them to take harsh legal actions against keeping arms without security duty. Only then, the security of the country will be safe,” said U Thein Swe.

Though Daw Aung San Suu Kyi uses bullet-proof cars provided by the government when she goes outside on official duty, she only uses her own private car in other times, said U Thein Swe, suggesting that she should take caution all the time.

“Whatever reason she goes outside for public duty, she is the most important person of the country. There should be full security since she is the leader of the country. There should be 24-hour security for her, and she should accept it,” said U Thein Swe.

“The number of arms was not that large as in the previous cases of Aye Ne Win and Kyaw Ne Win,” said U Khin Maung Win, referring to the case in 2002 when the grandsons of military dictator General Ne Win were arrested for allegedly plotting a coup.

“It is fair to say that [Phyo Ko Ko Tint San] has intentionally stockpiled firearms. I don’t mean he would assassinate a certain person. But why he has kept so many arms must be investigated,” he added.

U Tint San, the father of U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, is currently on a trip in China. According to sources close to him, he is a firearm fanatic and frequently posts photos of his arms on Facebook.