Monday, September 5, 2011

Tin Aung Myint Oo & Second Maing-yang Battle (1)

Young Major Tin Aung Myint Oo, formerly the First Secretary of State Peace and Development Council and now the First Vice President of Union of Burma, was awarded the Thiha-Thura medal, the second highest medal of valor in Burma, in 1989 for his 1988 heroic role as the Deputy Battalion Commander of IB-11 defending the border town of Maing-yang from numerically superior forces of Communist Party of Burma.

(Concise translation of Chapter-2 from Thaung Wai Oo’s “Battles of Maing-yang”.)

First Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo.
It was the third week of September 1988, and the place was Maing-shu the little town between   Salween River and Nangh-pan Stream in Southern Shan Sate. I had just become the battalion commander of IB-6 (Infantry Battalion – 6) in July that year. 

Unfortunately the country was in turmoil just after the 8-8-88 Uprising when I got my battalion CO promotion. Even though our battalion then was serving in Maing-shu the Battalion HQ was in Rangoon’s Shwe Pyi Thar.

So we really had to worry for our families back in Rangoon where law and order had completely broken down after the sudden fall of General Ne Win’s BSPP Government and the brutal mob anarchy had been going on for weeks and weeks now.

8-8-88 Uprising in Rangoon.
And I had to keep in touch constantly with the Battalion HQ by a wireless radio. Fortunately I had left a radio set in the battalion workshop and we could use that set for communication between us on the frontline and the battalion HQ in Rangoon.

“How are things? Tell us the situations there. Are there any serious dangers?”
“Post sentries around the battalion compound day and night. Send out the patrols too. Absolutely do not let any family out of the compound. Check thoroughly all the coming in and going out. If necessary, all the ranks and files back there must be ready to take arms and fight the mob.”
“Don’t lose contact with us on the front line. Take care the security of all our families.”

I had to keep on telling them constantly on the radio. We also didn’t dare to turn on that radio set during daytime as the political situation was so precarious. We dared to turn on that set only at the midnight when everyone else was sleeping. But at least we knew what was really going on back then in Rangoon in the middle of the Uprising.

Even in our Maing-shu the restless town-people had tried to protest. Anti-government posters were posted and the mob gathered at the town centre. Their leader was Maing-shu Buddhist Monk U Wimala. But I used all possible means I had and thus managed to detain all the protest leaders and finally quelled the protest demonstrations.

Then on September 18, 1988 our army staged the coup and took over the Government and slowly everything calmed down and eventually the whole country was back to normal. But my peace of mind didn’t last long too long as the bad news came in at 10 in the morning of September 23.


Maing-yang Location Map.
“CO, CPB forces are attacking Maing-yang,” came in and reported my Chin IO Captain Htan Kyint Htaung.
“Hay,” was the only word I could manage to say back to him.

IB-11 (Infantry Battalion-11) was in Maing-yang and its Commanding Officer was Major Soe Lwin who was my classmate back in the OTS. We also had served together almost two years from 1979 to 1981 in the Army Infantry School at Ba Htoo Town. Not only that, we were also together at the General Staff College in 1986.

He was really smart and in whatever school he attended he always finished first or second in the class. He graduated Second at the General Staff College and together with the First, Major Soe Win, they became the first ever battalion Commanding Officers from our batch. At the time of Second Maing-yang Battle I was just promoted to the CO of IB-6 but he had been the CO of IB-11 for more than a year.

The whole day we kept our Motorola Radio set on and constantly listened to the situations of the raging battle at Maing-yang.

Army had established Wireless Relay Stations at the strategic locations in the Sector east of Salween River and portable Motorola sets with speaking range of 100/200 miles were issued to the army units in the area. Our Maing-shu battalion had one of those Motorola sets and we could communicate with the nearby battalions and thus we knew the Maing-yang battle situations by the minutes.

By then I was extremely worried about my friend Major Soe Lwin as we were well aware of the massive strength of CPB forces his battalion was now fighting off at Maing-yang.

“CO, Maing-yang CO has fallen in the battle!” reported my IO Captain Htan Kyint Htaung.
“Hay,” was the only word I could mutter back.
“Enemy’s heavy-weapon, Sir.”
“Rest in Peace, my friend. Brave soldier never dies and even if he dies he will not go to Hell!”

Major Soe Lwin welcomed back by his wife and daughter.
One of my close friends and comrades has sacrificed his life for the country and army.

That night I could not sleep at all. I thought about Just-finished Uprising. About the periods I and Soe Lwin were together. The close relationship between our two families. His wife Ah Yee and three children. And the still-going-on Battle of Maing-yang, etcetera, etcetera. Never ending thoughts.

Maing-yang was the little town kept on being tripped over by the Communist Party of Burma since CPB started its North-eastern War Region. Being in the Kengtung Region east of Salween River, Maing-yang and Mainy-yaung were the remote frontier towns by the Chinese border then controlled by CPB forces.

And CPB had frequently tested two border towns and now less than a week after  the 8-8-88 Uprising they attacked Maing-yang again.

Thinking all that I could not fall asleep that night. My question was why did CPB attack Maing-yang again?

Why Did CPB Attack Maing-yang?

Major Soe Lwin and Tin Aung Myint Oo leading the troops.
After losing the huge battle at Si-si Wanterpang in 1986 the Communists were devastated. CPB had started that Battle as a morale boasting show of their strength and military capability after the Chinese Communist Party had cut off their arms and manpower support to the Burmese Communists.

Chairman Mao was dead and the new paramount leader (Black Cat/White Cat) Deng Xiao Ping wanted to reinvent China and CPB was in the way in rebuilding good neighborly relationship between China and Burma.

But instead of gaining the new territory CPB had lost Kyu-kote, Pang-saing, Mang-hiro, Kung-haing, and Naung-mah their important territories by the borderline to the Burmese Army. The architect and overall leader of that battle Yebaw Aung (a) Blackie Bo Myo Myint had to flee back to his sanctuary in China with his tail between the legs.

Because of unfavorable situations the CPB Central Committee even had to abolish its War Bureaus and armed-Divisions and wait for better situations again. And their fortunate time came in 1988.


A student uprising had started in Rangoon on March 12, 1988 when Phone Maw a student from RIT (Rangoon Institute of Technology) was killed in the police operation after a teashop brawl near RIT.

Back then Yebaw Htun (a) Bo Kyin Maung (current CPB General Secretary) from CPB Northern Bureau was the boss of Communist UG or Underground operations in the major cities like Rangoon and Mandalay. He has set up CPB UG cells nationwide to create disturbances as the opportunity arises.

All his long Communist life Bo Kyin Maung has managed the UG operation for CPB and he prefers the UG revolution to the armed revolution.  So in the crucial times of 1988 he became fervently active with the support of CPB Chairman Ba Thein Tin on the border to bring down Ne Win’s BSPP Socialist Government in Rangoon. And he finally did. Burma’s Socialist Government fell in September 1988.

8-8-88 Uprising actually was initiated and participated by the CPB UG cells in Rangoon. Having known the situations very well Chairman Ba thein Tin had taken full advantage of the public disturbances and planned for the eventual Communist takeover of the State Power.

CPB Chairmans Thakhins Than Htun, Zin, and Ba Thein Tin
CPB Radio had broadcasted many declarations for the support of Uprising. And the protesting students were praised as the revolutionary heroes in their broadcasts. CPB Central Committee had even moved down from remote Pang-sang to Mone-koe which was easily communicable from all over the country.

A CPB Politburo meeting was staged at Mone-koe and detail plans to snatch the State power were drawn up there.  

“If we can go in and skillfully handle the current political situation in Rangoon I am certain that we will achieve the State Power,” said CPB Chairman Ba Thein Tin with confidence.

As the planned two-pronged attack CPB had gathered its armed units and also stockpiled arms and ammunitions in the jungle camps by the Chinese border for the imminent assault on the Government forces while its UG cells and clandestine Radio were stoking hard the flames of Uprising in Rangoon and other cities.