On This Day

How a Prime Minister of British Burma Became a Killer

By Wei Yan Aung 21 September 2019

YANGON—On this day 73 years ago, Galon U Saw, who orchestrated the assassination of General Aung San and his ministers in 1947, was injured in an attempted assassination.

U Saw was the leader of the Myochit (Patriot’s) Party and had previously been the Prime Minister of British Burma. Earlier that day, he met Major General Sir Hubert Elvin Rance, then-governor of Burma. As his car neared Myaynigone in Yangon, another car overtook them and men inside fired shots at the prime minister’s car before speeding away.

All of the bullets missed U Saw but they shattered the windows. The glass injured his eyes and he was sent in hospital. The following day, General Aung San, U Nu and Thakhin Mya visited him at Yangon General Hospital.

Gen. Aung San said he had no idea who was behind the assassination but U Nu, who later became the first Prime Minister of independent Myanmar, suggested that the assassination was carried out by communists.

According to political leaders at the time however, U Saw firmly believed that Gen. Aung San and his Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) plotted the assassination. The question of who was behind the attack remains unsolved today.

From then on, U Saw then continuously opposed Gen. Aung San and the AFPFL. Less than one year after he survived the attack, he assassinated Gen. Aung San and his ministers. He was hung for high treason.

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