The only known photo of a meeting between retired Gen Than Shwe, chief of Burma’s military junta, and leaders of the Karen National Union—including its chairman Saw Mutu Say Poe—has been revealed on Facebook, after the two held a nearly three-hour talk in Naypyidaw in late November last year.
In the photo, retired Gen Than Shwe (right) and Saw Mutu Say Poe (second from right) sat alongside KNU general secretary Padoh Kwe Htoo Win and Saw Roger Khin, another KNU top leader, at Than Shwe’s home in Naypyidaw.
The pictured was posted by U Ngwe Soe, the executive director of Dawei Princess Co. Ltd. and the director of Sun and Rainbow Co. Ltd, on his personal Facebook account under the name Ngwe Soe.
In his post, Ngwe Soe wrote that he had shared—with a “constructive purpose”—the only picture that he had received permission to take at the meeting. He wrote that he had organized the meeting with Than Shwe as he was requested to do several times by KNU leaders Saw Mutu Say Poe and Padoh Kwe Htoo Win.
U Ngwe Soe wrote, “Retired Snr-Gen Than Shwe received Ahpoe [respected prefix meaning ‘grandpa’] Mutu Say Poe, Padoh Kwe Htoo Win, and Phahtee [uncle] Roger Khin at his home. The meeting took almost three hours. I arranged the meeting. He [the KNU chairman] said he wanted to greet [Than Shwe]. He didn’t want to talk about politics, but just wanted to talk as soldiers.”
U Ngwe Soe is known to be close to KNU leaders Saw Mutu Say Poe, Padoh Kwe Htoo Win and the late KNU leader, Saw David Htaw. He also donated funds for the medical and funeral fees of Saw David Htaw when he passed away in Rangoon in October 2012.
Ngwe Soe said that he introduced the KNU leaders to Than Shwe at the meeting. Than Shwe reportedly asked how old the KNU chairman was at that time, and he replied that his age was 83 years and 4 months.
“When Ahpoe Mutu said he was 83 years and 4 months old, he [Than Shwe] replied, ‘you are a little bit younger than me. I’m 85 years old,’” Ngwe Soe recalled.
“They then took their seats. I asked for permission to take only one picture for the record, and I left the meeting room,” wrote Ngwe Soe.
Even though there were reports that there was no discussion of politics at the meeting, Ngwe Soe wrote that the leaders might have broached the subject.
“Ahpoe Mutu got a chance to know how a leader thinks for the country. He knew what is withheld for internal peace and what is missing,” Ngwe Soe wrote.