Myint Swe revealed as military VP pick

By SEAN GLEESON | FRONTIER

YANGON — Military broadcaster Myawaddy has announced that retired general and outgoing Yangon Region Chief Minister U Myint Swe is the Tatmadaw’s nominee for the vice-presidency.

Myint Swe, 65, is of Mon heritage and graduated from Myanmar’s Defence Services Academy’s in 1971. He rose to the rank of Quartermaster-General in 2009, the fifth-most senior position in the Myanmar Armed Forces’ chain of command, which placed him directly under the command of former junta leader Senior General Than Shwe.

Myint Swe arrested former General Khin Nyunt at Yangon Airport during the 2004 purge of the former Prime Minister and his supporters. Soon afterward, Myint Swe assumed command of the former military regime’s sprawling military intelligence apparatus, the Office of the Chief of Military Affairs Security, which was reconstituted after the former Prime Minister’s downfall.

Head of the Yangon Regional Command for years, Myint Swe also participated in the arrest of family members of former dictator General Ne Win in 2002. During the 2007 monk-led popular protests known internationally as the Saffron Revolution, he was responsible for restoring order in the town after weeks of unrest. The resulting crackdown claimed the lives of dozens of people and saw several hundred others imprisoned.  

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Myint Swe was considered a front-runner to replace Vice-President Tin Aung Myint Oo after his unexpected retirement in July 2012, but was ultimately passed over in favour of former Navy chief U Nyan Tun. At the time, he was believed to have a son-in-law* with Australian citizenship, disqualifying him from the role under Article 59(f) of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution.

The same article has been used to bar National League for Democracy Leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from contesting the presidency herself. Myint Swe’s son-in-law is believed to have since been reinstated as a Myanmar citizen. Frontier could not independently confirm the citizenship status of Myint Swe’s family members. 

Appointed Chief Minister in 2011, Myint Swe came under criticism in 2014 for an urban expansion project allocated for the territory west of the Hlaing River. The project, which was not put out to public tender, was awarded to Saytanar Myothit, a company whose founders were alleged to have close ties to Myint Swe. After an outcry in the Yangon parliament, the project was suspended and a public tender was announced the following year.

In July last year, the Myanmar Times reported that Myint Swe would not contest the 2015 election and intended to retire once his term as chief minister ended, quoting former USDP General Secretary U Maung Maung Thein.

A joint sitting of Union parliament will be held next week to decide which of the three vice-presidents will assume the role of the presidency and succeed U Thein Sein.

Htin Kyaw, a confidante of Aung San Suu Kyi, is all but certain to win the vote, with ethnic Chin NLD lawmaker Henry Van Thio (Amyotha, Chin-3) to take the other vice-presidential post.

A parliamentary vote is expected on Tuesday.

*Correction, 6:15pm. An earlier version of this story reported that Myint Swe’s son had Australian citizenship. 

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