Alternative Asean Network on Burma
campaigns, advocacy and capacity-building for human rights
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President Thein Sein
Personal info

Date of Birth:
20 April 1945

Place of birth:
Bassein, Irrawaddy Division

Marital Status:
Married to Khin Khin Win

Key attributes

• Best suited to office work. Often referred to as “Senior Clerk”.

• Lacks ambition. Despite being promoted to Brigadier General in the War Office, he remained in the post traditionally held by a Colonel or Staff Officer.

• Obedient and non-confrontational. Considered a “yes man” of Sr Gen Than Shwe, his loyalty dates back to the early 1990s when he served as his personal assistant in the War Office.

• Not respected by other high ranking military officials, including Burma’s newly-elected Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo, and considered too weak for the position of Prime Minister.

• Described among military officials as “Mr. Clean” because he is allegedly not as corrupt as other generals.

• Lacks business and economic acumen. Often relies on junta cronies Tay Za and Zaw Zaw for advice on economic issues.

• Known to be a close associate with drug lords from the Wa Army while serving as Commander of the Triangle Region Command.

• Developed a reputation of being “anti-Thai” when he was Commander of the Triangle Region Command and dealt with Thai authorities regarding conflicts along the border.

Key “achievements”

• Represented the junta at ASEAN summits, where he was known to be the quietest leader at the meetings.

• During the 2007 ASEAN summit in Singapore, prevented UN Sec Gen’s Special Advisor on Burma Ibrahim Gambari from briefing attendees, by threatening to pull out of the association.

• Led the National Convention Convening Commission, which served as the first step of the junta’s seven-step roadmap to democracy.

• As point man for relief efforts related to cyclone Nargis, delayed the issuance of visas to foreign aid workers and played a key role in preventing aid from reaching survivors.

• Failed to convince several armed opposition groups in Eastern Shan State to enter ceasefire agreements with the junta when he was Commander of the Triangle Regional Command.

• Confiscated land from local paddy farmers which was sold to Wa officer Sai Mya for the production of amphetamines when he was Commander of the Triangle Regional Command.

• In 1998, as Commander of the Triangle Regional Command, failed to respond to a plane crash that killed 39 people near Tachilek Township, Shan State, opting instead to play golf.

(In)famous quotes

In February 2007, as Chairman of the Committee for Prevention against Recruitment of Minors, Thein Sein said: “No forced recruitment is carried out and all the soldiers have joined the army of their own accord.

In August 2007, during the final sessions of the National Convention, Thein Sein said with regard to the duration of the National Convention: “Actually we could have wrapped all of it up in a day, but there's a need to make it look good, isn’t there?

In August 2010, in a speech sent to SPDC ministries, Army battalions, and universities and colleges directing them to vote for the USDP in the 7 November election, Thein Sein said: “Vote for the USDP because only the USDP can bring peace and tranquility to the country—only vote for the USDP, don’t vote for the wrong people.

On 30 March 2011, in his inaugural address to the National Parliament, Thein Sein said: “[…] [E]very citizen has to avoid any activities and speeches that harm the image of the country and interests of the people.”

In November 2011, on the final day of the 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia, Thein Sein told reporters: “[There are] no political prisoners [in Burma] – all prisoners have broken the law […] we don’t accept their ‘conscience’.”

On 4 January 2012, in his Independence Day message, Thein Sein said: “It was the Tatmadaw that directed the nation towards building a peaceful, modern and developed democratic [country].”

In January 2012, in an interview with the Washington Post, Thein Sein said: “We cannot leave the military behind because we require the military’s participation in our country’s development.”

On 11 July 2012, while discussing the issue of Rohingya with UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, Thein Sein said: “The solution to this problem is that they can be settled in refugee camps managed by UNHCR, and UNHCR provides for them. If there are countries that would accept them, they could be sent there.”

In August 2012, in an interview with Voice of America regarding Rohingya in Arakan State, Thein Sein said: “[Naypyidaw] will open schools for them and give them modern education […]. And once they become educated, they will be more thoughtful and can decide what is right and what is wrong.”

In January 2013, in a New Year message to Parliament, Thein Sein said: “[T]he Tatmadaw has not only made sacrifices in blood and sweat for the security of the State but also done everything they possibly can to make positive contributions to the peace process.”

On 4 March 2013, as fierce fighting continued to rage in Kachin and Northern Shan State, Thein Sein told journalists in Vienna: “There’s no more hostilities, no more fighting all over the country, we have been able to end this kind of armed conflict”.

On 31 March 2013 in a radio address to the nation, Thein Sein said: “During this time of democratic transition, the Tatmadaw is also playing an important role by cooperating with the people. The Tatmadaw will use its good institutional traditions and attributes gained from its experience as strengths in this transitional process.”

On 19 May 2013, in an interview with the Washington Post, Thein Sein said: “There are no Rohingya among the races [in Burma]. We only have Bengalis who were brought for farming [during British rule].”

On 2 July 2013, in his monthly radio address to the nation, Thein Sein said: “The cover story of the magazine [TIME magazine] depicting a few individuals who are acting contrary to most Myanmar, is creating misconceptions of Buddhism.”

On 19 July 2013, in an interview with France 24 television, Thein Sein said: “Outside elements are just exaggerating, fabricated news, there is no ethnic cleansing whatsoever. […] This is a smear campaign against the government. What happened in Rakhine was not ethnic cleansing.”

On 14 August 2013, in a speech during the swearing-in ceremony of various regime deputy ministers, Thein Sein said: “Now, the guns have fallen silent following the dialogue between the government and 13 ethnic armed groups at the State level.”

On 1 October 2013, in his monthly radio address to the nation, President Thein Sein said: “The media in our country enjoys more freedom than its counterparts in other Southeast Asian countries.”

Curriculum vitae
Feb 2011 –
President of Burma
Elected with 408 out of 659 votes (62%) in the National Parliament.
Feb 2011 –
Head of the National Defense and Security Council (NDSC)
Thein Sein has the power to make key decisions without Parliament’s approval, including the ability to declare a state of emergency and restore military rule.
Oct 2007 –
Feb 2011
SPDC Prime Minister
Military Rank: General - He resigned from the military in April 2010 to contest in the elections as a USDP candidate. In May 2007, Thein Sein took over the duties of Prime Minister when former PM Gen Soe Win’s health declined. He was promoted to the post officially in October 2007.
Nov 2010 –
Feb 2011
Member of Parliament
Elected with 91% of the votes as the USDP candidate to the People’s Assembly in Naypyidaw’s Zabuthiri Township.
Apr 2010 –
Feb 2011
USDP Chairman
Resigned from the USDP after being elected as Burma’s President.
Oct 2008 –
Feb 2011
Chairman of the National Disaster Preparedness Central Committee
Tasked to oversee relief efforts for cyclone Nargis.
May 2004 –
Sep 2007
Chairman of the National Convention Convening Commission
Oversaw the National Convention’s proceedings.
Jan 2004 –
Chairman of the Committee for Prevention against Recruitment of Minors
unknown Chairman of the Police Reform Committee
Oct 2004 –
Oct 2007
SPDC Secretary-1
Aug 2003 –
Oct 2004
SPDC Secretary-2
Nov 2001 –
Aug 2003
Adjutant General of the War Office
Military Rank: Major General.
1996 – 2001 Commander of the Triangle Regional Command
Military Rank: Brigadier General; Location: Kengtung Township, Shan State.
1995 Military Operations Command- 4
Location: Hmawbi Township, Rangoon. Assigned to establish the newly-formed military command.
1992 – 1995 General Staff Officer at the War Office
Military Rank: Colonel; Location: Rangoon.
unknown Commander of Infantry Battalion 89
Location: Kale, Sagaing Division.
unknown Commander of Strategic Command 2 of the Eastern Regional Command
1989 Graduate of the Command and General Staff College
Location: Kalaw, Shan State.
1988 Light Infantry Division 55
Military Rank: Major; Location: Kalaw, Shan State.
1968 Graduate of the Defense Services Academy - 9th intake
Thingyan address to the nation - 13 April 2014
Peasants’ Day message - 2 March 2014
Radio address to the nation - 1 March 2014
Union Day message - 12 February 2014
Radio address to the nation - 1 February 2014
Independence Day message - 4 January 2014
Radio address to the nation - 1 January 2014
Radio address to the nation - 1 December 2013
Message on the 93rd anniversary of National Day - 26 November 2013
Radio address to the nation - 1 November 2013
Message to ethnic armed groups meeting in Laiza - 29 October 2013
Message on the 68th anniversary of the United Nations - 24 October 2013
Radio address to the nation - 1 October 2013
Message to the Conference of the Leaders of Five Faiths - 1 October 2013
International Day of Democracy message - 15 September 2013
Radio address to the nation - 1 September 2013
Speech at the swearing-in ceremony of deputy ministers - 14 Augst 2013
Message of felicitations on the 46th Anniversary of the founding of ASEAN - 8 August 2013
Radio address to the nation - 1 August 2013
Radio address to the nation - 2 July 2013
Inaugural speech at the World Economic Forum on East Asia - 6 June 2013
Radio address to the nation - 4 June 2013
Speech at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies - 20 May 2013
Message on the report of the Rakhine Investigation Commission - 6 May 2013
Radio address to the nation - 2 May 2013
May Day message - 1 May 2013
Acceptance speech for the International Crisis Group’s In Pursuit of Peace Award - 22 April 2013
Thingyan radio address to the nation - 14 April 2013
Radio address to the nation - 31 March 2013
Address to the nation on religious violence - 28 March 2013
Peasants’ Day message - 2 March 2013
Radio address to the nation - 1 March 2013
Union Day message - 12 February 2013
Radio address to the nation - 1 February 2013
Message to National Parliament -10 January 2013
Independence Day message - 4 January 2013
New Year message - 1 January 2013
National Day message - 8 December 2012
Speech at Asia Society, New York - 27 September 2012
Address to the UN General Assembly - 27 September 2012
State of the Union address - 19 June 2012
Message concerning violence in Arakan State - 10 June 2012
May Day speech - 2 May 2012
Peasants Day Message - 2 March 2012
Speech to National Parliament - 1 March 2012
Union Day message - 12 February 2012
Message to Parliament - 26 January 2012
Independence Day message - 4 January 2012
Message concerning the Myitsone dam project - 30 September 2011
Speech to National Parliament - 22 August 2011
Speech to officials from economic and social fields, associations, and organizations - 17 August 2011
Speech to members of Union Government, heads of Union level organizations - 31 March 2011
Inaugural speech to National Parliament - 30 March 2011
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Related topics:
Advisory Board
National Defense and Security Council
Financial Commission
Division and State Administrations
Tatmadaw Regional Commanders
Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief
Tatmadaw Deputy Commander-in-Chief