The Irrawaddy

Deputy Home Affairs Minister Leaves Post to Return to Top Military Job

NAYPYITAW – The deputy minister of home affairs, Maj. Gen. Aung Soe, was promoted on Friday to the rank of lieutenant general and is expected to leave the cabinet to take over as commander of the Bureau of Special Operations. The BSO oversees the regional military commands and reports directly to Amy chief Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.

Among his new duties, Lt. Gen. Aung Soe will reportedly oversee BSO No.6, after its current commander, Lt-Gen Aung Kyaw Zaw, was removed from the post earlier this week.

Lt. Gen. Aung Soe is from the Defense Service Academy (DSA) No. 26 intake and formerly served as commander of the Army’s Division 33 as well as head of the Northeast Regional Command. He was also deputy minister of home affairs in the previous Thein Sein administration.

It is rare that a general appointed to the cabinet is brought back to the military and given a promotion, said former general Hla Htay Win, who was joint chief of staff of the army, navy and air force.

“He [Aung Soe] is kind of the first person,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Under the constitution, the military has the right to appoint the ministers of home affairs, defense and security and border affairs.

Lt. Gen. Aung Soe’s position in the cabinet will be filled by the current head of the Defense Service Academy, Maj. Gen. Aung Thu.

Ko Ye Myo Hein, the executive director of the Tagaung Institute of Political Studies said that the reshuffle appeared to be related to several controversies in Rakhine State.

Another military affairs analyst in Yangon told The Irrawaddy that Lt. Gen. Aung Kyaw Zaw had to take responsibility for the actions of the Western commander, Maj. Gen. Maung Maung Soe.

Before he was removed from the position and transferred to BSO No. 6 in Naypyitaw last year, Lt Gen Aung Kyaw Zaw headed BSO No. 3, which is responsible for the Southwestern, Southern and Western Military Commands.

In his posting at BSO No. 3, Lt. Gen. Aung Kyaw Zaw was a member of the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC-U) and participated in the peace negotiations.

Under his command, the Rohingya crisis erupted, which resulted in nearly 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.

Lt. Gen. Aung Kyaw Zaw was part of the DSA 24 intake, and commanded Division No. 33. In 2010, he was appointed to command the Northeast Region Command and then later the Southern Region Command. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and to head BSO No. 3 in August 2015.

In a series of reshuffles within the Home Affairs Ministry last month, police of different ranks were either suspended or transferred. On Sunday, Maj. Gen. Nyi Nyi Swe, head of the Southwestern Command and former head of the Northern Command; and Brig. Gen. Maung Maung Zan, the commander of Division 101, based in Hpakant were investigated for taking bribes, and suspended from their positions. They were later transferred to auxiliary units 

Further reshuffles are expected, said Ko Ye Myo Hein, adding that it shows Amy chief Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing is taking responsibility and holding officers accountable for their actions, as he had promised the United Nations, including the UN Security Council delegation that visited the country last month, and the international community.

Lt-Gen Aung Soe had good relationships with other parliamentarians as a cabinet member and lawmakers described his move back to the military as a loss for the executive.

U Nay Myo Tun, a lower house lawmaker from Yangon’s Htantapin constituency said, “He is kind and is ready to help others. It is sad to lose him [from the position].” He said the deputy home affairs minister resolved the shortage of police officers and other administrative problems in his Htantapin constituency when he asked him for help once.

Nyein Nyein contributed to this report.