Aung San Oo

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Aung San Oo
Native name အောင်ဆန်းဦး
Nationality American
Occupation Engineer
Spouse(s) Lei Lei Nwe Thein
Parent(s) Aung San
Khin Kyi
Relatives Aung San Suu Kyi (sister)
Aung San Oo as an infant.

Aung San Oo (Burmese: အောင်ဆန်းဦး) is the elder brother of Burmese National League for Democracy chairwoman and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi; the two are the only surviving children of Burmese independence leader Aung San. Aung San Oo is an engineer. Aung San Oo has been described by the Burmese Lawyers' Council and the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma as a potential surrogate of the junta in an attempt to humiliate Aung San Suu Kyi and place her in an untenable position.[1][2] Time magazine reports that, according to Burmese exiles and observers in Rangoon, the junta used the alleged surrogacy of Aung San Oo and his lawsuit as an act of spite against the National League for Democracy leader.[3]

Aung San Oo was educated in England and immigrated to the United States in 1973.[4] His wife, Lei Lei Nwe Thein (also spelled Leilei Nwe Thein), is also an American citizen.[5]

The lawsuit[edit]

Aung San Oo is estranged from his sister; while Suu Kyi has become the leader of the Burmese National League for Democracy party, Oo is close to the ruling military junta. In 2000, Oo brought legal action against Suu Kyi in the Rangoon High Court demanding a half-share in the family home, where she had been held under intermittent house arrest from 1989 to 2010. There was widespread speculation among observers at the time that Aung San Oo would then sell his half-share to the junta,[2] but the High Court ruled against Oo, much to the surprise of the same observers, who had assumed that it would bring down whatever verdict was preferred by the junta.[3] The Burmese Lawyers' Council describes the lawsuit as an attempt by the junta to publicly humiliate the leader of the National League for Democracy.[1] The Burmese Government in exile claims that had Aung San Oo won his case, he would have put Aung San Suu Kyi in an extremely precarious position.[2] In the Time article it is also reported that the junta may have used this legal manoeuver to "back Aung San Suu Kyi into a corner", despite advice to the contrary by the visiting former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto the year before the lawsuit.[3]

The mansion[edit]

Aung San Oo's mansion in Bagan, 2007

Since 2005, Aung San Oo has been constructing a large mansion on a prime location within the exclusive Archaeological Zone in Bagan. Oo himself, as a U.S. citizen, cannot legally hold property in Burma (it was on this basis that the Rangoon High Court dismissed his claim for a half-share in the house in Rangoon), but his wife's family is understood to be acting as proxy on his behalf. His wife, Daw Lei Lei Nwe Thein, is rumoured to harbour political ambitions for Oo through his connections with the junta, although there is no independent source to confirm these rumours.[6]


  1. ^ a b LEGAL ISSUES ON BURMA JOURNAL No. 7, DECEMBER 2000 BURMA LAWYERS' COUNCIL quote: "This approach reeks of a sinister attempt to publicly humiliate the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), which overwhelmingly won the one and only democratic general election conducted by the military junta."
  2. ^ a b c NCGUB Archived March 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. quote: "If he wins the case, U Aung San Oo is expected to turn his share of the house over to the government, a result which would put Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in an extremely precarious position."
  3. ^ a b c TIME magazine, "Burmese Democracy Leader Faces New Threat", November 28, 2000 quote: "Talk about spite. First, Burma's military government told pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi that she couldn't leave Rangoon. Then they told her that she couldn't leave her house. Now, they want the house." and: "Late last year, former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto visited Burma and met with the generals. Burma's military is anxious for Japan to resume aid to their country, which it cut off when soldiers gunned down thousands of democracy demonstrators in 1988. Hashimoto gave the generals this advice when it came to dealing with Suu Kyi and her followers: Don't back her into a corner. The generals, it appears, aren't listening."
  4. ^ Hansen, Barbara (1 February 1996). "The Kitchen Ambassador : Leilei Nwe Thein shares the culture and cooking of Southern California's tiny Burmese community". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "Burmese-American Citizen returns from Homeland Merch Mission". ShelterboxUSA. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Irrawaddy magazine, "Suu Kyi's Brother Builds a Winter Retreat", October 12, 2005 Archived December 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.