There will be “elections” in Burma this year. But we should not be fooled into believing they will be free or fair. They will be a sham and will further entrench the military at the heart of power. The new constitution is harsh and one of the most unfair anywhere. For this reason the elections will be boycotted by those who oppose the military regime. The constitution entrenches permanent military (male) rule, putting the (male) commander-in-chief of Defence Services at the centre of power – not the president, who will serve at the pleasure of the military. A significant proportion of the elected parliament will be (male) military officers.

– Extracted from Lucy Turnbull, “UN must step up for the women of Burma”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 March 2010.

As an aside, New Mandala readers interested in the role of female officers in the Burmese armed forces will want to read Maung Aung Myoe’s (1998: 18) account. He writes:

There were women first commissioned into the Tatmadaw (into the airforce) in 1954. The army first took female officers in 1955…However, recruitment of female officers for non-medical services was stopped once and for all in 1961…The first female officer to become a lieutenant colonel was Dr Daw Shu Poe, consultant anaesthetist from the Defence Services General Hospital, in 1978. Seventeen years later, Dr Daw Malar Than, consultant physician from the same hospital, became the first female officer to reach the rank of colonel. The first non-medical female officer to become colonel was Daw Aye Myint, Assistant Adjutant General, in 1988.

My understanding is that even this medical route to achieve relatively high rank has now been largely stopped. Could any readers provide insights about the most senior military women in Burma today?