On This Day

A Call for a Coup

By Wei Yan Aung 4 April 2019

YANGON—Sixty-five years ago today, the Yangon government tried a number of politicians for high treason for requesting that the military stage a coup.

During the civil war in late 1949, colonial-period minister and seasoned politician U Ba Bay along with some other politicians paid a visit to the military chief General Ne Win and attempted to persuade him to topple the government of U Nu’s Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League by staging a coup. He also promised to provide the funds and weapons for the coup.

Gen. Ne Win, however, did not accept U Ba Bay’s proposal and instead he informed Prime Minister U Nu of the scheme. U Nu’s government did not take action against U Ba Bay immediately. The decision was, however, brought up at a press conference given by U Nu in 1954, when a reporter named U Maung Maung Khin of the Myanma Alinn newspaper asked about the government’s failure to take action against them on that occasion.

A few months later, on April 4, 1954, U Ba Bay, along with politicians Tharyarwady Maung Maung and U Lun, was tried for high treason and each given prison sentences. Regarding the case, Myanmar’s historians, have remarked that paving the way for the military to intervene in the conflicts of politicians amounts to a hanging of democracy.

The military did later seize power from the government in 1958, 1962, and 1988, and until today it is still deeply involved in the country’s politics.