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253 Section III, S, Profile U MYINT THEIN, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNION Reproduced from Maung Maung, “U Myint Thein, Chief Justice of the Union” in The Guardian IV, no. 10 (October 1957): 9–16, by permission of Daw Khin Myint, wife of the late Dr Maung Maung. When Parliament in joint session last month unanimously resolved to recommend to the President the confirmation of U Myint Thein in his appointment as Chief Justice of the Union, it did more than choose a man: it further upheld the democratic tradition of the independence of the Judiciary, and of entrusting the charge of that Judiciary to a man who is not only learned in the laws but has a liberal background and has the broad and basic principles of democratic justice woven into his being. That may not appear as a remarkable feature, but it is. For Burma, now only ten years old as an independent state, may have chosen democracy as her way of life, but choosing is only the beginning. There have happened much in the ten years which have nearly shaken the democratic faith and provoked great impatience in the Government and the policymakers with the apparently slow and cumbrous processes of the Judiciary. The independence of the Judiciary, which necessarily calls for certain 03S DrMaung.indd 253 2/28/08 2:25:48 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 254 DR MAUNG MAUNG: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot immunities and privileges for the Judges, has often aroused feelings of envy in politicians who have of needs to move and work in a fast and shifting world. Yet, so far, the independence of the Judiciary and the respect shown to it, are not a mere window-dressing; they have been real, even though that reality can only be relative and not absolute, for human beings have still to attain absolute perfection. And the appointment of U Myint Thein, lawyer, soldier, diplomat, Judge, to the top post in that Judiciary, is a further gesture of faith made by Parliament which, means ultimately, the people, in the essential and eternal goodness of democracy. x x x x x Chief Justice U Myint Thein is rather touchy about his age. The Roll of Advocates shows his age as 27 at the time the Bar Councils Act came into force on January 1st., 1929. That would make him 55 in 1957, and it would appear to be correct. But he looks about forty and maybe he feels much younger. With his irrepressible buoyancy, his innumerable anecdotes and jokes, and his great “human-ness”, he makes people around him feel young also. On the Bench buoyancy has to be a little curbed, and dignity and decorum must hold sway, but they are livened with kindness and good humour. U Myint Thein is the third of four famous brothers in Burma. Each one of them excelled and reached the top in his chosen profession. The eldest, U Tin Tut was the first Burman to enter the Indian Civil Service; later he became an associate of Aung San in the freedom struggle, and as Finance Minister, Foreign Minister in Aung San’s Cabinet, played a large part in the negotiations in London with Mr Attlee’s Government for Burma’s freedom. U Kyaw Myint, the second eldest brother, practised law and had excursions into politics, rose to be High Court Judge and Supreme Court Justice, is now a leader of the Bar in the country. The fourth brother, who came after U Myint Thein, is Dr Htin Aung, the Rector of the University of Rangoon, scholar and foremost educationist. If the brothers have been brilliant, so was the father, U Pein, K.S.M., A.T.M., who retired as a Deputy Commissioner at a time when Burmese Deputy Commissioners could be counted on one hand. x x x x x 03S DrMaung.indd 254 2/28/08 2:25:48 PM U Myint Thein, Chief Justice of the Union 255 U Myint Thein remembers that he was overshadowed by his two brilliant elder brothers who stood first in every examination that they took. But he did manage to stand first...


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