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Aung Thaung, a senior advisor to the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), died on Thursday morning in Singapore, where he had been fighting for his life after suffering a severe stroke two weeks ago.
The 75-year-old, known as a hardliner under the previous military junta, suffered a debilitating stroke on the evening of 8 July in Naypyidaw and was airlifted to Singapore the following day.
USDP colleague and fellow lower house MP Saw Hla Tun confirmed Aung Thaung’s death to DVB.
“We were told last night that he was not in a good condition. Doctors predicted he may only have about 24 to 48 hours to live. We learnt the news about his death this morning when we arrived in parliament,” he said.
Aung Thaung was chairman of the lower house’s Banks and Monetary Development Committee.
Saw Hla Tun said his death was a big loss to the party.
“He had been a member of the USDP since it first began back when it was the Union Solidarity and Development Association. Until his death he provided the party with guidance as a senior advisor,” he said. “I feel that his death is a huge loss to our party but he also left with us a lot of experience.”
Aung Thaung, a native of Mandalay’s Taungtha Township, was born in 1940. He graduated university with a Bachelor of Arts degree, before he became a lieutenant-colonel in the Burmese military. He was later appointed minister of industry during the era of the State Peace and Development Council.
He became a lower house MP representing Thaungtha after winning elections in 2010.
The known hardliner was also widely accused by activists of masterminding the Depayin Massacre in 2003 when government thugs attacked a vehicle convey carrying opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, leaving a score of her party members dead.
Aung Thaung and his family were among the wealthiest families in the country with numerous business interests, including building material firms Aung Yee Phyo Company and IGE Company. A license to establish a private bank, United Amara Bank, was granted in his son’s name, Nay Aung, in 2010.
On 31 October last year, Aung Thaung was blacklisted with US sanctions, the US Treasury noting that in addition to the Depayin incident, he was implicated in actively attempting “to undermine recent economic and political reforms in Burma”.
The sanctions froze any US-based assets he had, and barred US citizens from doing business with him.
Aung Thaung is survived by his four children.