Kyaw Nyein

Kyaw Nyein (Burmese: ကျော်ငြိမ်း; pronounced [tjoʊ̯ ɲeɪɴ]; 19 January 1913 – 29 June 1986), called honorifically U Kyaw Nyein (Burmese: ဦးကျော်ငြိမ်း;pronounced [ʔú tjoʊ̯ ɲeɪɴ], was a leading Burmese anti-colonial nationalist and major political figure and policy strategist in the parliamentary democracy era of post-independence Burma. A proponent of import substitution, he pursued the industrialization of Burma. He was a driving force of Burma's non-alignment policy, an advocate for a Third Force position of post-colonial countries, and a main initiator of the Asian Socialist Conference.[1]

Kyaw Nyein
Kyaw Nyein.jpg
Kyaw Nyein at Heho airport, Shan State
1st Home Minister of Burma
In office
4 January 1948 – 2 April 1949
PresidentSao Shwe Thaik
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byNe Win
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister
In office
14 September 1948 – 2 April 1949
PresidentSao Shwe Thaik
Preceded byU Tin Tut (Foreign Minister)
Bo Let Ya (Deputy Prime Minister)
Succeeded byDr. E Maung (Foreign Minister)
Ne Win (Deputy Prime Minister, Home Minister)
Minister of Cooperatives
In office
PresidentBa U
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byTun Win
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
PresidentBa U
Win Maung
Minister of Industry
In office
PresidentBa U
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byBo Khin Maung
Deputy Prime Minister of National Economy
In office
PresidentWin Maung
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byOffice eliminated
Personal details
Born(1913-01-19)19 January 1913
Pyinmana, Mandalay District, British Burma
Died29 June 1986(1986-06-29) (aged 73)
Bahan Township, Yangon, Burma
Political partyBurma Socialist Party
Other political
AFPFL, Asian Socialist Conference, Anti-Colonial Bureau, People's Revolutionary Party until 1944
Nwe Nwe Yee
(m. 1942; died 1992)
ChildrenThaung Kyaw Nyein
Aung Kyaw Nyein
Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein
Tun Kyaw Nyein
Bo Bo Kyaw Nyein
Khine Cho Kyaw Nyein
Yamin Kyaw Nyein
Alma materUniversity of Rangoon Mandalay College
OccupationPolitician, lawyer

Early life and educationEdit

Kyaw Nyein was born January 19, 1913, in Pyinmana, British Burma as third child to Daw Thon and Po Toke, a lawyer and leader of the General Council of Burmese Associations. He attended the King Edward Memorial School in Pyinmana where he befriended Than Tun, who would later become chairman of the Communist Party of Burma. In 1930, he entered Mandalay College to study science and became engaged in university politics. Together with Thein Pe Myint, he fought successfully against the closing down of Mandalay College. After passing the Intermediate exam, he and Thein Pe Myint transferred in 1933 from Mandalay College to Rangoon University, where he joined the English Honors program. Following his graduation in 1936, he entered law school and supported himself teaching English as a tutor at the Rangoon University, where he met his future wife, Daw Nwe Nwe Yee. He received his law degree in 1939 and subsequently worked as appraiser in the customs department.[2][3]

Anti-colonial activismEdit

Kyaw Nyein continued his political activities as senior student at Rangoon University. In 1933, while hospitalized, he befriended Aung San who was receiving treatment for palpitations. In the same year, he introduced Aung San to Thein Pe Myint and Than Tun and together with Aung San and Thein Pe Myint decided to run for the executive council of the Rangoon University Student Union (RUSU). He and Thein Pe Myint were elected in the first attempt, Aung San in a second. Once an executive council member of the RUSU, Kyaw Nyein was in charge of public relations and became editor of the RUSU Bulletin. [4]

Post-independence politics (1948-1958)Edit

Kyaw Nyein held multiple minister positions in Burma's post-independence governments. From 1946 to 1958 he was the General Secretary of both the Burma Socialist Party and the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League.

Deputy Prime Minister, Home Minister and Foreign Minister and forced resignation (1948-1949)Edit

Kyaw Nyein served as the first post-independence Minister of Home Affairs and in September 1948 assumed additionally the positions of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister U Nu.[5]

In 1949, after a pressure campaign from the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces (tatmadaw) General Ne Win that amounted to an attempted coup d'état, Kyaw Nyein and five fellow socialist ministers resigned. At that time, the democratic elected government of U Nu had lost control of most of Burma's territory due to ethnic and communist uprisings. In this volatile situation and unbeknownst to the government, Ne Win had led clandestine negotiations with communist insurgents. One day in April 1949, he entered a cabinet meeting and declared that he would form a government with the communists who had accepted the deal under the condition that all socialist ministers resigned. Kyaw Nyein and five fellow socialist ministers agreed to step aside provided that Prime Minister U Nu remained the head of government. Although the agreement with the communists fell apart eventually, in addition to his military position as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Ne Win held for two years the civilian positions as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister in the government of Prime Minister U Nu.[6]

Minister of Cooperatives, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Industry, Minister of Industrial Development (1951-1958)Edit

Kyaw Nyein reentered Prime Minister U Nu's cabinet in 1951 and held various minister positions until the split of the AFPFL in 1958. During this time period, he developed Burma's non-alignment policy and became the main advocate for a Third Force position of post-colonial countries. Subsequently, he was a driving force behind the creation of the Asian Socialist Conference and headed the 'Preparatory Committee for the first Conference of Asian Socialist Parties' in March 1952 in Yangon, which also initiated the publication of Socialist Asia, the organ of the Asian Socialist Conference.[7][8][9]

Opposition Politics (1958-1974)Edit

AFPFL Split (1958)Edit

After the split, Kyaw Nyein became a leader of the Stable AFPFL faction alongside Ba Swe.[10]

Political life after the military takeover in 1962Edit

Kyaw Nyein was detained in August 1963 after General Ne Win had staged a coup d'état in March 1962. He was released in February 1968 at the height of tensions between Burma and China and an escalating civil war between Burma's armed forces and the China-backed Burma Communist Party.[11] In the same year, Kyaw Nyein and other veteran politicians among them U Nu and U Ba Swe were invited by General Ne Win, who chaired the Revolutionary Council, to advise the council on drafting a national constitution and "ways of improving the country's stability and prosperity." [12] He was part of a group of twenty-one politicians who proposed the return to democracy with a mixed economy. A minority of eleven from a total of thirty-three members of the advisory committee recommended a one-party system. Ne Win rejected the majority advice[13] and established in 1974 a Soviet-style one-party socialist system based on a new constitution.

Death and legacyEdit

He died in Rangoon after a long illness on 29 June 1986, aged 73.[14][15] He has been called "the brain of Burma's drive to socialism."[16]


  1. ^ Rose, Saul. Socialism in Southern Asia. London: Oxford University Press, 1959. pp.5,7,238,244
  2. ^ Thein Pe Myint (1999). Kyaw Nyein. Yangon: Sar Oke Zey. p. 5.
  3. ^ Maung Maung, Dr. (2011). Thet Shi Yar Za Win (Living History). Yangon: Unity Publishing House, (first published by Thamma Meitta in 1956). pp. 52–69.
  4. ^ Thein Pe Myint (1999). Kyaw Nyein. Yangon: Sar Oke Zey. pp. 5, 25.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Thakin Tin (2014). Ko dwe lutlatyeh taik pwe. Yangon: Seiku Cho Cho. p. 384.
  7. ^ Callesen, Gerd. Socialist Internationals – A Bibliography Publications of the Social-Democratic and Socialist Internationals 1914–2000
  8. ^ Rose, Saul. Socialism in Southern Asia. London: Oxford University Press, 1959. pp.4-5,7,238,244
  9. ^ May Day 1955, jointly published by the Socialist International and the Asian Socialist Conference. p. 1
  10. ^ Becka, Jan (1995). Historical Dictionary of Myanmar. Lanham, Md.& London: The Scarecrow Press.
  11. ^ Steinberg, David I. and Hongwei Fan (2012). Modern China-Myanmar Relations Dilemmas of Mutual Dependence. NIAS Press.
  12. ^ New York Times, December 3, 1969
  13. ^ New York Time July 30, 1969
  14. ^ "FORMER DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER DIES". Associated Press News Archive. 1986-06-29.
  15. ^ Taylor, Robert (2015). General Ne Win: A Political Biography. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 500.
  16. ^ Egreteau, Renaud (2013). Soldiers and Diplomacy in Burma. NUS Press. p. 90.