Than Shwe 2015

82 and going strong: Than Shwe on Facebook

On Thursday, March 26, Than Shwe’s grandson posted a Facebook photo of Than Shwe and his granddaughter. An Irrawaddy article, “Former Burma Supremo Seen in Rare Photo With Granddaughter,” first brought this to my attention.

Than Shwe with his granddaughter (via Nay Shwe Thway Aung's Facebook)

Than Shwe with his granddaughter (via Nay Shwe Thway Aung’s Facebook)

The grandson in question is none other than Nay Shwe Thway Aung (နေရွှေသွေးအောင်), who also goes by the nickname Pho La Pyi (ဖိုးလပြည့်). At any rate, he’s known more for his rowdy partying antics more so than anything else. He also maintains a heavy Facebook presence, offering the world a peek into the privileged lifestyles of Than Shwe’s progeny. A US diplomatic cable, dated September 24, 2009 (entitled: “coffee-at Emptor:” Than Shwe’s Grandson Wins Burma Regime Families’ Spat”) describes him in the most favorable light:

Pho La Pyi, said to be Than Shwe’s favorite and his “heir apparent”, has a reputation as a partier and a playboy.  In his late teens, he is an avid soccer enthusiast and reportedly spurred the creation of a Burmese crony-led soccer league (reftel)*.  Rumors circulated last year that he and friends had kidnapped a popular Burmese model, Wut Hmon Shwe Yi, and had held her for several days.

*The referenced league is the Myanmar National League (မြန်မာနေရှင်နယ်လိဂ်), which was founded in 2009.

Another internal cable dated November 15, 2007, entitled “Zaw Zaw: A Crony On The Rise” describes the cozy friendship between Zaw Zaw, a business tycoon, and Nay Shwe Thway Aung:

“Zaw Zaw’s connections to the senior generals are based on his father-in-law’s friendship with Maung Aye, Martin Pun (PROTECT), a prominent businessman and Chair of the Tuesday Breakfast Club, informed us.  In recent years, Zaw Zaw, who is in his mid-to-late 30s, has formed a close relationship with Than Shwe’s grandson, Nay Shwe Thway Aung, a football enthusiast.  Saman Sarathchandra, General Manager of Sedona Hotel, confirmed that Zaw Zaw hosted Nay Shwe Thway Aung’s football-themed 16th birthday party at Sedona Hotel in June 2007.  More than 1,000 people attended the party, which cost Zaw Zaw more than $25,000.”

Curious about the comments and the photo in question, I decided to seek out the Facebook post myself. As of posting, this photo has received 5,313 Likes, 64 comments, and 458 shares.

The caption in Burmese reads:

★ ဗိုလ်ချုပ်မှူးကြီးသန်းရွှေနှင့် သူ၏ Ipad နည်းပြဆရာမ ★ 😎😎😎

Translation:

“★ Senior General Than Shwe and his Ipad [sic] Instructor ★ 😎😎😎”

I was quite honestly shocked to see a good number of positive comments (albeit many carry a sarcastic tinge) and likes. A lot commenters refer to Than Shwe as ah-ba-gyi (အဘကြီး), a Burmese kinship term for “uncle” (more precisely, a father’s elder brother). I’ve translated some of the most popular comments on this ongoing thread below:

At 108 Likes, from Kyaw Myint Oo:

မြန်မာနိုင်ငံရဲ့ ဒီမိုကရေစီစနစ်ကူးပြောင်းရေးမှာ အာဏာကိုဖားပေးမြှောက်ကော်လုပ်တဲ့ လူရဲ့လက်ထဲပြီးစလွယ်မအပ်နှင်းဘဲ တိုင်းပြည်နဲ့လူမျိုးပေါ်သစ္စာရှိတဲ့သဘောထားပြည့်ဝတဲ့ သမ္မတကြီးဦးသိန်းစိန် လိုလူကိုရွေးချယ်နိုင်တာရယ် မြန်မာတပ်မတော်ကို အင်အားကြီးအောင် တိုင်းပြည်ငြိမ်ဝပ်အောင်ထိမ်းထားနိုင်ဖို့နာမည်ဆိုးခံ လူမုန်းခံပြီးတာဝန်ကျေခဲ့သူမို့ လေးစားပါတယ် စိတ်အရင်းခံနဲ့ပါ သက်တော်ရာကျော်ရှည်ပါစေဗျာ…….

With respect to Burma’s transition to democracy, I respect you as someone who fulfilled his obligations, for picking someone like President U Thein Sein, full of good intention and loyalty to the country and people, while sustaining Burma’s military might to keep the nation at peace, enduring a bad reputation and the people’s hatred, instead of simply handing over the power to a kiss-ass (in Burmese analogy, “handing over the salwe” [a traditional Burmese sash indicating rank]). From the bottom of my heart, I wish that you live well beyond the age of 100.

At 47 Likes, from Sun Tauk:

အဘကြီး ခုအစိုးရရဲ့ ပြတ်သားမှုမရှိတဲ့လုပ်ရပ်တွေကြုံတိုင်း အဘင်္ကြီးကိုသတိရတယ်

Uncle, every time I experience this current government’s indecisiveness in action, I think of you.

At 36 Likes, from Arkar Maung Maung

အဘိုးနဲ့မြေးမလေး၊ ပကာသဏ [sic] မဖက်နဲ့ ပကတိဖြူစင်တဲ့ မြေးမလေးနဲ့ အေးချမ်းနေပြီဖြစ်တဲ့ အဘိုး၊ (မှတ်တမ်းဝင်တဲ့ပုံလေးတစ်ပုံပါ)

Grandfather and granddaughter: a pure untainted granddaughter free from ostentation and a grandfather now at peace. (a photo for the records)

At 35 Likes, from Thiri Kalyar:

ဘဘကျမ်းမာပါစေ။

Uncle, may you be healthy!

At 32 Likes, from Yuzana St:

အဘကြီးကျေးဇူးနဲ့ မကွေးနဲ့ မင်းဘူး မိနစ်နှစ်ဆယ်နဲ့ ရောက်ပြီ

All thanks to Uncle, it takes only 20 minutes to go from Magwe to Minbu.

At 22 Likes, from Hlwam Aung:

အဘကြီးရဲ့ လုပ်ရည်ကိုင်ရည်
အကြံညဏ် ကို လေးစားပါသည်

နိုင်ငံအတွက် တာဝန်
ကျေပွန်လွန်းသူတစ်ယောက်
ဖြစ်ခဲ့ပြီး

တပ်မတော်သားတစ်ယောက်၏
နိုင်ငံကို ကာကွယ်စောင့်ရှောက်
နိုင်မှုအတွက် ပြယုဂ်တစ်ခုဖြစ်ခဲ့၍

သေသည်အထိ လေးစားနေမှာပါ

I admire Uncle’s work ethic
and advice,

As one who fulfilled
his responsibilities
to the country,

A son of the Armed Forces,
defending and looking after the nation,
for victory, serving as a paragon

Until death, I will continue revering him.

Just. Wow. Burmese netizens sure know how to troll.

One thought on “82 and going strong: Than Shwe on Facebook

  1. sandy says:

    Oh my! Truly a heavy Facebook presence. TBH, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the selfie antics for people of his age.

    Isn’t it interesting that Than Shwe seems to have acquired public adulation? I am very surprised.

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