S’pore leaders send condolence letters to Myanmar
By Bhagman Singh, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 13 October 2007 2335 hrs
In his letter to Acting Prime Minister Lieutenant General Thein Sein, Mr Lee said he is saddened to learn of General Soe Win’s death and recalled the warm hospitality the late General had accorded him and his delegation during his introductory visit to Myanmar in March 2005.
Writing to his counterpart, U Nyan Win, Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo said General Soe Win fought his illness to the last with courage.
He said the General was also a strong supporter of greater ASEAN integration.
Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Balaji Sadasivan will represent the Singapore government at the state funeral of General Soe Win in Yangon on Sunday.
Burma’s Prime Minister, “Butcher of Depayin,” Dies after Long Illness
by The Associated Press
October 13, 2007
Burma’s Prime Minister Gen Soe Win, who had been blamed with overseeing a 2003 attack against pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, died Friday after a long illness. He was 59.
The fourth-ranking member of the junta, he had been ailing for months with what relatives said was acute leukemia. His death was announced by state media.
He had returned September 30 from extended hospitalization in Singapore and had been warded at Mingaladon Military Hospital on the outskirts of northern Rangoon, relatives said.
Soe Win’s death on Friday came as the junta continued its crackdown on democracy advocates, following more than a month of street protests in the tightly controlled country.
His departure was unlikely to cause a ripple in the regime’s grip on power. Soe Win had little if any policy-making role as prime minister, and was largely considered a figurehead for the junta.
Lt-Gen Thein Sein, who has been serving as acting prime minister since at least May, was expected to succeed Soe Win. Thein Sein is known as a fierce loyalist of Snr-Gen Than Shwe, the junta’s chief.
Soe Win was nicknamed the “Butcher of Depayin” for his role in the 2003 attack on Suu Kyi and her followers in the northern town of Depayin.
Details of the attack remain murky, but several dozen of Suu Kyi’s supporters were believed killed when a mob of government supporters ambushed her motorcade. Soe Win is considered the mastermind behind the attack, according to diplomats, rights groups and government critics.
He first achieved notoriety as one of the officers who brutally suppressed a 1988 pro-democracy uprising, commanding troops around Rangoon University—a center for demonstrations—and giving orders to open fire on a crowd of protesters in front of Rangoon General Hospital.
Soe Win was also an air defense chief and a commander for the northwestern military region of the country. He joined the junta’s inner circle as Secretary-2 in February 2003, and was promoted to Secretary-1 in an August 2003 Cabinet shake-up. He became prime minister in October 2004, replacing then premier and intelligence chief Gen Khin Nyunt, who was removed on corruption and other charges and is currently under house arrest.
He is survived by his wife, and their son and daughter. Soe Win’s twin brother died on September 19.