Who is Burma’s New Security Adviser?

By The Irrawaddy 11 January 2017

RANGOON — A former ambassador who once said detained Daw Aung San Suu Kyi “must not rock the boat” was appointed as national security adviser by her National League for Democracy (NLD) government, according to the President’s Office on Wednesday.

The new position was created as the government faces ongoing clashes with ethnic armed groups in the country’s north and east while attacks by Muslim militants with international connections sparked a large security operation in western Burma’s Arakan State.

The new security adviser U Thaung Tun previously served as Burma’s ambassador to the Philippines, Belgium, the Netherlands and the EU as well as director-general for political affairs within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the early 2000s.

In his role as ambassador to the Philippines, U Thaung Tun warned Daw Aung San Suu Kyi “must not rock the boat” when commenting on the NLD boycott of the military junta’s controversial constitution convention at a 2006 press conference in Manila.

The Nobel Laureate was under house arrest in 2006, and her party representatives boycotted the convention for being undemocratic. Eleven years later, amending the constitution remains on the to-do list for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD.

U Thaung Tun joined the foreign ministry in 1972 and served at headquarters and various diplomatic posts abroad until his retirement in April 2010. His overseas postings included Bern, Brussels, Geneva, Manila, New York, and Washington.

His latest diplomatic posting was in Brussels where he served concurrently as Burma’s Ambassador to Belgium, the Netherlands and the European Union from 2008 to 2010. He was Burma’s ambassador to the Philippines from 2005 to 2008.

U Thaung Tun served as director-general of political affairs within the foreign ministry and leader of Burma’s delegation to the Asean Senior Officials Meetings from 2001 to 2005.

Previously, he was Secretary of the National Commission for Environmental Affairs where he led the working group that drew up the sustainable development plan called Myanmar Agenda 21. He also served as Secretary of the Myanmar Institute of Strategic Studies.

U Thaung Tun holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Rangoon Arts and

Science University and a diploma in French from the Institute of Foreign Languages, Rangoon. He also attended the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University near Washington, DC as a Fulbright Scholar from 1984 to 1985.

In 2016, he served as Government Relations Advisor for Shell Myanmar Energy PTE.

U Thaung Tun will advise the president and the government on internal and external threats “by assessing situations from a strategic point of view,” and he will hold the same status as a Union minister, according to the President’s Office.

He is the second person from the former military regime appointed to a high position in the civilian government.

Last year U Kyaw Tint Swe—a career diplomat and defender of Burma’s dire human rights record under military rule—was chosen to head the powerful new Ministry of the State Counselor’s Office under Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.