Intelligence unit to return to Khin Nyunt days

The new chief of Burma’s intelligence department has said that a major shake-up will see the unit tightening security and clamping down on flows of information.

The department will use the tactics of Burma’s former intelligence chief Khin Nyunt, who headed the now-disbanded Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence (DDSI) before he was purged in 2004. It then became Military Affairs Security (MAS), but, say analysts, lost much of its strategic cunning.

A source close to the unit told DVB that the new chief, Maj Gen Kyaw Swe, “wants to restore the practices of the former intelligence services because less information is being received now”.

This will involve foregoing the practice of moving MAS agents from post to post every few moths, and will instead have to remain at their station for three to five years.

“The newcomer does not know what the old agent was doing and agents cannot organize the people, get information, or control the areas they are assigned to,” the source said. “So, they want to reintroduce the old system again and a special order to that effect was issued a few days ago.”

Under Khin Nyunt, who headed DDSI for 20 years and became prime minister in August 2003, Burma’s dissident community was placed under lock and key. It is thought that the work undercover reporters do now and the amount of information leaving the country would not have been possible in Khin Nyunt’s day, when surveillance was all-seeing and communication among intelligence circles proficient.

The DDSI was dismantled following his arrest in October 2004 – some analysts believe it was the growing power of Khin Nyunt and the DDSI that concerned junta chief Than Shwe, who imprisoned him and undertook a major shake-up of the intelligence.

Maj Gen Kyaw Swe, who was an officer under Khin Nyunt, is also planning to revive the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), an umbrella organization of all intelligence departments in the DDSI’s day.

“Right now, every agency is going alone on its own; the Special Branch comes up with its own theory, the intelligence agency another theory, and the MAS is useless,” said the source.

“So they may even follow the pattern of the NIB and bring the Special Branch of Police and intelligence agencies under [it].”

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