Myanmar Junta Chief’s Henchman Rewarded for his Loyalty
By The Irrawaddy 4 July 2022
After junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his deputy Vice Senior General Soe Win, Lieutenant-General Aung Lin Dwe is one of the key generals of Myanmar’s military regime.
Aung Lin Dwe is the secretary of the regime’s governing body, the State Administration Council (SAC), and so, in the absence of the national legislature, all the decrees and notifications issued by the regime are signed by him.
Military supporters think highly of Aung Lin Dwe because of the position he holds. But it is wrong to compare him with former General Khin Nyunt, who was Secretary-1 in the former regime, the State Peace and Development Council led by Senior General Than Shwe. Aung Lin Dwe has become the SAC secretary not because he is smart, but because he is one of Min Aung Hlaing’s closest and most trusted confidants.
Aung Lin Dwe and Min Aung Hlaing meet in Pyin Oo Lwin
Aung Lin Dwe, who turned 60 in May, was Min Aung Hlaing’s subordinate when the coup leader served as the Commandant of the Defense Services Academy (DSA) in Pyin Oo Lwin. He was one of the first persons to be bullied by Min Aung Hlaing, before the junta boss turned to tormenting the entire country.
“Min Aung Hlaing would beat [his subordinates] when he was angry. At that time, Aung Lin Dwe was always beaten,” said a source close to the 25th intake of the DSA, which included Aung Lin Dwe and current Chief of General Staff (Army, Navy and Air) General Maung Maung Aye.
Min Aung Hlaing has since taken good care of his follower, who never complained despite his mistreatment by the future junta boss. Aung Lin Dwe rose through the ranks thanks to Min Aung Hlaing’s patronage, despite the fact that there were many smarter cadets than him in the 25th intake.
Aung Lin Dwe’s military career
After graduating from the National Defense College, where middle-ranking officers undergo training for more senior positions, Aung Lin Dwe did not become a division commander as his record was unremarkable.
But Min Aung Hlaing, who was Bureau of Special Operations chief at the time, often urged the then general in charge of military appointments to promote Aung Lin Dwe.
He was subsequently appointed as head of regional operations command, a position below that of a division commander and military operations commander.
After Min Aung Hlaing became the Chief of General Staff (Army, Navy and Air), he promoted Aung Lin Dwe to be commander of Military Operations Command based in Rakhine State’s Buthidaung. He was later appointed as the Commandant of the Defense Services Technological Academy in Pyin Oo Lwin.
In 2014, Aung Lin Dwe was appointed as the commander of Western Command which oversees Rakhine State in western Myanmar.
“The Arakan Army [the Rakhine ethnic armed organization] significantly grew in influence while he was serving as the commander of Western Command. If someone else was holding that position, he might have been sacked. But as Aung Lin Dwe is [Min Aung Hlaing’s] follower, he was actually promoted to become a Lieutenant General,” said a retired military officer.
Subsequently, he was made Judge Advocate General in 2016.
Min Aung Hlaing studied law for around a year and half before joining the Myanmar military. He always orders that everything must be done in line with the law. He has defended his coup as being in line with the law.
Aung Lin Dwe, as SAC secretary, has assumed the responsibility of claiming that every decision made by the military regime is ‘in line with law’.
“[Aung Lin Dwe holds his senior position] because of [Min Aung Hlaing’s] trust in him. I am sure he is not that smart. His role is no more than that of a chief clerk. He only has to sign the orders from the Senior General,” said a source close to the DSA’s 25th intake.
Even though Aung Lin Dwe is not outstanding as a professional soldier, he is as smart as the other generals in advancing the interests of his family.
He has become the key person to deal with when regime contracts are up for tender. “The SAC chairman has instructed that contracts must be only be granted to those who can be trusted. Aung Lin Dwe gets to use his authority to decide on that,” said one Naypyitaw businessman.
After Aung Lin Dwe became the SAC secretary, three businesses owned by his family have grown by leaps and bounds. Mingalar Aung Myay Co, Aung Myint Moh Lin Co and Shwe Yi Phyo Pyae Co are all run by his wife Daw Ohmar Myint and their three children.
Company offices have been opened at their residence in Raja Thingaha Housing in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw, where businessmen wishing to make successful bids for junta projects are now arriving in numbers, said a Naypyitaw business owner.
“Businessmen can’t distance themselves from generals. Ministers and director-general’s only award contracts to companies that have ties to them. But they are smart. They don’t touch the projects for which the children of SAC members bid for,” he added.
The civilian National Unity Government has blacklisted Aung Lin Dwe’s three companies, which have interests in trading, manufacturing and construction.
At the same time his younger sister, Dr. Su Su Dwe, has been promoted from being the medical superintendent of Mandalay General Hospital to be director-general of the Traditional Medicine Department. Officials in the junta’s health ministry view that promotion as the first step to Dr. Su Su Dwe assuming a senior position in the ministry.
“This is the way of dictatorship. You don’t need to be smart. You just need to be loyal to them. Lt-Gen Aung Lin Dwe is the best example of that,” said a source close to him.