Two Military-Appointed Cabinet Ministers Look Set To Be Replaced

By Htet Naing Zaw 9 October 2018

NAYPYITAW—Following unconfirmed reports on social media and from some local news organizations that two military-appointed Cabinet posts are to be reshuffled, speculation has focused on the ministers of Defense and Home Affairs, who are near or above the age of 60, the legal retirement age for civil servants in Myanmar.

The reports also suggest that the military has reshuffled several top positions in the armed forces.

Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Sein Win, who was born in July 1956, is 62, while Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant-General Kyaw Swe, who was born in November 1959, is nearly 59.

However, the ministers’ retirements would require the approval of both the president and the Parliament, government sources told The Irrawaddy.

Under the 2008 Constitution, the ministers of Defense, Home Affairs and Border Affairs are nominated by the Army chief, and appointed by the president with the approval of Parliament.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the military (also known as the Tatmadaw) had not officially informed the government of any reshuffle, and military spokesperson Major-General Tun Tun Nyi told the media he could not confirm the reports.

“[The Tatmadaw] has not reported [their ministers’ retirements] to us. So, it can’t have been done yet, according to the Constitution. They are ministers appointed by the president. [They can’t retire] without reporting to us. They [the Tatmadaw] might have a plan to do so. But so far, we haven’t received any report,” a government source told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity.

Under military law, a lieutenant-general can retire if it has been five years since his last promotion. According to Tatmadaw leaders, however, the retirement age for a lieutenant-general who serves at a civilian ministry is 62.

According to unverified Tatmadaw documents circulating on social media, Lieutenant-General Nyo Saw, who currently serves as the quartermaster general and is a graduate of the 23rd Intake of the Defense Services Academy, is set to be appointed home affairs minister, while Lieutenant-General Hsan Oo, the Tatmadaw’s adjutant general, will be appointed defense minister.

“Ko Nyo Saw is a man of military lineage. He is strong and pleasant,” a source close to the Tatmadaw told The Irrawaddy.

Lt-Gen. Nyo Saw rose through the ranks from general staff officer Grade-1 at Yangon Command to tactical commander, commander and quartermaster general, he said.

Army Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing has also praised Lt-Gen. Nyo Saw, the source said.

Regarding the reported military reshuffle, Lieutenant-General Tun Tun Naing, commander of Bureau of Special Operations (1), has retired, according to the unconfirmed Tatmadaw documents leaked on social media.

Lieutenant-General Min Naung, commander of Bureau of Special Operations (4), has reportedly been appointed Defense Services Inspector General, while Lieutenant-General Aung Soe, who has served in that post, has been transferred to Bureau of Special Operations (1).

Head of Naypyitaw Command Major-General Myint Maw has reportedly been appointed quartermaster general, and the Northern Command chief, Major-General Teza Kyaw, has been named adjutant general.

Major-General Moe Myint Tun, a graduate of the 30th Intake of the Defense Services Academy, who will be just over 55 in 2020 and is widely tipped to succeed Snr-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, has been transferred to Bureau of Special Operations (6).

Maj-Gen. Moe Myint Tun and General Mya Tun Oo, chief of the General Staff (Army, Navy, Air Force), have both risen through the ranks of the military rapidly.Gen. Mya Tun Oo was once tipped as a future military chief, but his age now makes that unlikely. Like Maj-Gen. Moe Myint Tun, Lieutenant-General Myo Zaw Thein is also seen as a potential future military chief.

A retired lieutenant-general said that due to previous news leaks, the Tatmadaw no longer publishes written promotion orders, but directly informs the concerned individuals of their promotions.

The information in the as-yet unverified reshuffle reports is widely believed to be credible because it mentions ranks and Defense Services Academy intakes, which are otherwise unknown to the general public, said a leader of the Union Solidarity and Development Party who is close to the Tatmadaw.

“At first, I heard that it [the announcement] was true, and the news was leaked. So, [the military] covered it up,” he said.