You are on page 1of 4

Ba Swe

Ba Swe (Burmese: , pronounced: [ba sw]; 17 October 1915 6

December 1987) was the second Premier of Burma. He was a leading
Burmese politician during the decade after the country gained its
independence from Britain in 1948. He held the position of prime minister
from 12 June 1956 to 28 February 1957. When Ba Swe became prime
minister, Time magazine reported the news in an article titled: 'The Day of
the Tiger' based on his nickname 'Big Tiger' (Kyah gyi Ba Swe) since his
university days in the 1930s as a student leader.[1]
His name was often paired with the name of another famous student leader
as Ba Hein and Ba Swe, both Thakins or members of the nationalist Dobama
Asiayone (We Burmans Association) and were arrested by the British colonial
government during the year of countrywide protests, demonstrations and
strikes in 1938 known as the "1300 Revolution" (Htaung thoun ya byei
ayeidawbon named after the Burmese calendar year).[2][3] Ba Hein became a
founder member of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) in 1939 and shortly
afterwards Ba Swe and Ba Hein among others founded the People's
Revolutionary Party (PRP), renamed the Burma Socialist Party after the war.[3]
Ba Swe was also known for his penchant for wearing dark glasses.
2nd Prime Minister of Union of
In office
12 June 1956 25 February 1957
U Nu
U Nu
Personal details
17 October 1915
Tavoy, British Burma
6 December 1987 (aged 72)
Yangon, Myanmar
Nationality Burmese
Spouse(s) Nu Nu Swe
Children Nay Nwe Ba Swe
Nay Myo Ba Swe


Kyi Ba Swe
Tun Ba Swe
Yee Ba Swe
Bala Ba Swe
Nyunt Ba Swe
Phoo Ba Swe
Si Ba Swe
Min Ba Swe

Rangoon University
Former Prime Minister,
Theravada Buddhism

Ba Swe assumed the premiership in the aftermath of the parliamentary
elections held in early 1956. Though the ruling Anti-Fascist People's Freedom
League (AFPFL hpa hsa pa la) was returned the leftist coalition of parties
known as the National United Front (NUF pa ma nya ta) won 37% of the
vote.[3] The number of NUF seats in Parliament was increased. However, on
account of the 'first-past-the-post' electoral system, the NUF's representation
in the Burmese Parliament was not reflected in the seats that it obtained.
Still, the 1956 election results came as a shock to the AFPFL government. U
Nu, the Prime Minister at the time, temporarily relinquished his office in order
to devote full-time to reorganizing and strengthening the AFPFL. Ba Swe, as a
deputy of U Nu in the AFPFL and leader of the Socialist Party, took over the
job from U Nu. After less than nine months U Nu resumed office as Prime
Minister on 28 February 1957.
AFPFL split
By mid-1958 Ba Swe had fallen out with his senior colleague U Nu. The AFPFL
split into two factions, and Ba Swe together with his colleague Kyaw Nyein
and thirteen other ministers resigned from the government on 4 June 1958
and tabled a motion of no-confidence against U Nu in Parliament. On 8 June
1958 the no-confidence motion was put to a vote in Parliament but the
government of U Nu survived the motion by a mere 8 votes because the
leftist NUF voted with the government.[3][4]
Allegedly due to the instability arising from the split in the AFPFL and to the
escalating insurgent problems U Nu on 26 September 1958 'voluntarily'
invited the Army Chief of Staff General Ne Win to take over as Prime Minister
in a 'caretaker' capacity for an initial period of six months. On 28 October

1958 the Burmese Parliament, with the support of members from both
factions of the AFPFL but in the face of opposition from the NUF, voted to
appoint General Ne Win as Prime Minister in a 'caretaker government'.[3] (In
his memoirs, entitled "Saturday's Son", translated by U Law Yone and first
published in 1974, U Nu claimed that his handover of power was not
'voluntary' but that a group of Army Officers led by Brigadier Aung Gyi and
Brigadier Maung Maung threatened him with a 'straight military coup' should
he refuse to hand over power to Ne Win.)
Election defeat
In the February 1960 elections, held during General Ne Win's caretaker
government, the faction of AFPFL led by Ba Swe and Kyaw Nyein, aka Swe
Nyein faction ( ), contested as Stable AFPFL ( , Ti my
hpa hsa pa la). The faction led by U Nu and Thakin Tin, aka Nu Tin faction,
previously known as Clean AFPFL (; Thant shin hpa hsa pa la),
formed a new party known as the 'Union Party' ( , Pyidaungsu
Party or ). U Nu's Union Party won the 1960 elections by a landslide.[3]
Military era
Ba Swe was out of power and regarded as a 'dead tiger' politically at the
time of General Ne Win's coup d'tat in March 1962. Hence he was not
among those detained by Ne Win's Union Revolutionary Council. However at
the time of the 1963 peace parley between the RC and various armed
insurgent groups, Ba Swe, like many other Burmese politicians of the left and
the right during that period, was detained.
Ba Swe and U Nu, his former senior colleague and later adversary, were
released on 27 October 1966. On the day of their release both Ba Swe and U
Nu were driven to the office of the Revolutionary Council Chairman General
Ne Win where Ne Win, among others suggested that both might wish to go
abroad for a 'medical check-up'.(The news item concerning Ba Swe and U
Nu's release from custody and their meeting with General Ne Win can be
read in the 28 October 1966 issues of The Rangoon Guardian and The
Working People's Daily).
Ba Swe, together with U Nu and Kyaw Nyein, was among the thirty threemen 'Internal Unity Advisory Board' that Ne Win's Revolutionary Council
formed on 2 December 1968. The Board was to report to the RC by 31 May
1969 on ways of promoting national unity.

Ba Swe died in Rangoon in December 1987.