Ex-Dictator’s Son-in-Law Hand-Picked as Military MP for New Parliament

By San Yamin Aung 19 January 2016

RANGOON — New military representatives to Burma’s next Parliament, which will convene in less than two weeks, were named in Tuesday’s state-run newspapers, including among appointees the son-in-law of former military strongman Snr-Gen Than Shwe.

High-ranking members of the armed forces are included in the new slate of unelected lawmakers, including three major-generals appointed to the national legislature, according to the Union Election Commission (UEC) announcements. Maj-Gens Tauk Tun and Than Htut Thein will take up seats in the Lower House of the Union Parliament, while Maj-Gen Than Soe will sit in the Upper House.

Among the appointees also of note is Brig-Gen Thein Naing, the son-in-law of former junta leader Than Shwe. Thein Naing, the husband of Than Shwe’s daughter Khin Pyone Shwe, will take a seat in the Rangoon Division legislature.

Political analyst Yan Myo Thein pointed out that Thein Naing was the highest-ranking military appointee to the Rangoon regional legislature, speculating that he might be a candidate for chief minister of the division, Burma’s most populace.

In a Facebook post, Yan Myo Thein said observers should keep an eye on Thein Naing’s political trajectory, and that his potential chief minister candidacy might be part of an agreement reached between National League for Democracy (NLD) chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi, Than Shwe and Burma Army commander-in-chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing.

The Constitution requires that state and divisional chief ministers be selected by the president from among respective regional legislatures’ parliamentarians.

The NLD will hold commanding majorities in all but the legislatures of Shan and Arakan states, following its landslide victory in Burma’s Nov. 8 general election. While Suu Kyi is constitutionally barred from the presidency, she has stated publically that she will be “above the president” in an executive that her party has the required majorities to form.

The new Parliament convenes on Feb. 1.

Under Burma’s military-drafted 2008 Constitution, 25 percent of seats in both houses of the Union Parliament and state and regional legislatures are reserved for active members of the military.

Though the UEC cancelled elections for about 20 seats nationwide due to security concerns in some townships, the commission’s announcements revealed that the military took its full allotment of reserved seats: 110 in the Lower House, 56 in the Upper House and 220 in regional legislatures, giving the institution representation that exceeds 25 percent of sitting lawmakers in the Shan and Kachin states’ legislatures, as well as the Union Parliament’s Lower House.