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99 Section III, E, Profile GENERAL NE WIN Reproduced from Maung Maung, “General Ne Win” in The Guardian I, no. 12 (October 1954): 55–60, by permission of Daw Khin Myint, wife of the late Dr Maung Maung. It was a moment of decision, again. The crossroads, again. Time: the middle of 1945. Place 77 Sanchaung St. in the Sanchaung suburb of Rangoon, an ageing wooden house standing on stilts. Colonel Ne Win, having directed Resistance operations in the Delta had handed over command to his trusted lieutenants Bo Aung Gyi and Bo Tin Pe to return to Rangoon and organise for the future. Bo Khin Maung Gale had come down from Thayet and Myanaung to help. The two lived in austere circumstances and kept irregular hours and when I went to report on the situation in Henzada we all squatted on the floor and shared a poor meal while an oil lamp gave grudging light. Things were not good, and many of the professed friends had disappeared and enemies were on the prowl. The British had tried to belittle the Resistance and even to brand the Burmese army as the Traitor Army. The Resistance forces were being variously named: the Local Burmese 03E DrMaung.indd 99 2/28/08 2:17:02 PM Reproduced from Dr Maung Maung: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot by Robert H. Taylor (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 100 DR MAUNG MAUNG: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot Forces, the BTF (Burmese Traitor Forces), and only later, much later, came the recognition in the name Patriot Burmese Forces. The Japanese remnant armies were crossing the Yomas and attempting a heroic breakout into Thailand. The British and their Indian forces were coming in, halted here and there by a handful of Japanese, but they were coming in and the pro-British elements in Rangoon were joyous. Those who were neither pro- nor anti-British but simply pro-self were also beginning to forsake the nationalist cause; already the Resistance and the national struggle for freedom were conveniently fading out of their memories as they desperately sought invitations to parties given by the British Chief of the Civil Affairs Admn (Burma) or his staff, or eagerly offered to report on the occupation period when the “legal government” was away — and how they missed their white masters and hated, how passionately they hated, the Nippon “masters”! Irrevocable Decision It was a lonely time for Bo Ne Win and his handful of friends. Rumours were going round that Bogyoke Aung San and Bo Ne Win and other prominent commanders of the Resistance were to be tried for treason for fighting the British. Lukewarm friends therefore though it wise to stay away from the leaders of the Resistance and alone they plodded their weary ways. It was a moment of decision: whether to give in and give up, and slip quietly away to forget and be forgotten, or whether to carry on the fight, the hard, bitter fight for freedom, suffering all the frustrations and disappointments of the fighting. Yet, though there was time enough to beat a retreat, the decision had been made a long way back, way back when the youthful leaders were students or just out of school and college and they decided that liberation of Burma from foreign rule would be their mission in life. Way back in 1935 and 1938 when the University students went on strike clamouring, in effect, for national freedom, way back to those tumultuous years when young men left their classrooms, their homes, their jobs, to meet in secret meetings and dream and plan a free Burma, to study Marx and discuss the glittering ideologies, to organise and debate and set the people on fire. Way back to 1940 and 1941 when, under the gathering clouds of war, the young Thakins were planning to seek foreign armed assistance 03E DrMaung.indd 100 2/28/08 2:17:03 PM General Ne Win 101 in their struggle and, evading police warrants, roaming the country or slipping across the borders. As for his young Thakin contemporaries, so for Bo Ne Win (or Thakin Shu Maung as he then was) the irrevocable decision was made a long way back. Since he left College in 1932 without...


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