Burma

Myanmar Police Force Reshuffles Several Senior Positions

By Htet Naing Zaw 7 October 2019

NAYPYITAW—The Myanmar Police Force reshuffled a number of high-ranking officers, including a spokesperson, in the last week of September, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced on Sept. 26.

Spokesperson Police Colonel Myo Thu Soe, the deputy head of Special Branch, has been appointed deputy head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Police Force, succeeding Police Colonel Thet Naung, who will serve as head of research and planning at the Transnational Crime Department. He will take over that post from Police Colonel Naing Ye Thu, who will succeed Police Colonel Win Naing Oo as head of security at Special Branch. Police Colonel Win Naing Oo will take over as administration head of Special Branch Police from Colonel Kyaw Thiha, who has been promoted to deputy head of Special Branch.

“Police Col. Kyaw Thiha will become the spokesperson, though he has not yet been officially appointed,” a police lieutenant colonel at Police Headquarters in Naypyitaw told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity.

Police sources said the appointments were part of a routine annual reshuffle.

According to the police officer based at headquarters, who did not want to be named, Pol. Col. Thet Naung suits the Transnational Crime Department due to his English fluency, while Pol. Col. Kyaw Thiha, who was previously posted to the Office of Military Security Affairs of the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw), is skilled in collecting intelligence.

Pol. Col. Myo Thu Soe was formerly a military captain before being transferred to the police. He served as a police major after the transfer and rose through the ranks to become a police colonel.

Pol. Col. Kyaw Thiha was a lieutenant colonel with the military before his transfer to the police force.

On Myanmar Police Force Day on Oct. 1, police officers involved in defending locations in Rakhine State from attacks by the Arakan Army, as well as those who defended locations targeted by ethnic rebel groups on the Goke Twin Bridge and a police station in Shan State’s Naung Cho Township, were given promotions.

When the Myanmar Police Force carried out a reshuffle in April last year, Thet Naung was promoted from police lieutenant colonel to colonel and became the deputy head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Police Force. He has good relations with the media.

Five police colonels were also promoted to the rank of brigadier general in last year’s reshuffle.

This year’s reshuffle comes at a time when the Myanmar Police Force is under fire on social media regarding its handling of a widely watched toddler rape case in Naypyitaw.

Police have also been criticized for their failure to arrest a number of high-profile fugitives, including ultranationalist monk U Wirathu, nationalist U Hla Swe, and Aung Win Khaing, the alleged mastermind behind the assassination of National League for Democracy legal adviser U Ko Ni.

According to the Myanmar Police Force, it has only 80,000 officers—70,000 short of the level it says is needed to properly serve the public. According to international norms, an appropriate police to civilian ratio is around 1 to 400. The level in Myanmar is 1 to 1,300.

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