Min Aung Hlaing wades into ruling controversy

30 December 2015
Min Aung Hlaing wades into ruling controversy
Myanmar Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (C) stands next to Thai army chief and junta head General Prayut Chan-o-cha (L) and the supreme commander of the military General Tanasak Patimapragorn (R) during a meeting at the Royal Thai Army headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, 04 July 2014. Photo: EPA

Gen Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces, has stepped into the public eye in regard to Thai-Myanmar relations following the Koh Tao verdict.
He has asked Thailand for a "review of the evidence" against the two convicted men, the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.
"Regarding the verdict, we believe and hope that Thai authorities will proceed fairly with the case in accordance with the law," the Irrawaddy quoted in a message from the commander-in-chief's official Facebook page.
Here is a brief look at Gen Min Aung Hlaing's contacts in the context of Thai politics.
A source said Gen Min Aung Hlaing has close ties to ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra. A clip in which Thaksin was in conversation with former defence minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa in Hong Kong was noted as proof.
In the clip, Thaksin was heard saying: "If there are any problems, you can tell Min Aung Hlaing. We are close [friends]," the source said.
Before the May 21 coup last year, Gen Min Aung Hlaing regularly visited both former Supreme Commander Tanasak Patimapragorn and Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, who was then serving as army chief.
Following the coup, he continued visiting Prime Minister Prayut and expressed his admiration for the Thai military's role in stepping in to resolve the country's problems.
During his visits to Thailand, Gen Min Aung Hlaing also paid courtesy calls on Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda.
Gen Min Aung Hlaing has respect for Gen Prem and asked to be Gen Prem's "son", the source said.
He always brings gifts for Gen Prem during his visits to the general's Si Sao Thewes residence, the source said, adding that Gen Min Aung Hlaing often comes to Thailand in August to wish Gen Prem a happy birthday. Gen Prem's birthday is on Aug 26. 
Gen Min Aung Hlaing is one of the most influential figures in Myanmar's political and military circles as he not only heads the armed forces, but also has the right under the constitution to appoint key ministers including defence and border affairs.
Unlike other top Myanmar generals, Gen Min Aung Hlaing has an active social media presence including on Facebook to share his views and showcase his activities.
He was on the list of presidential candidates, though the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won in an election landslide.
How times change. Less than two months after the May 22, 2014, coup, Myanmar armed forces commander Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing was the first foreigner of significant rank to visit Thailand. He showed strong support for the coup government headed by new Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, then commander of the Royal Thai Army.