Ba Swe

Ba Swe

Infobox Prime Minister
name =Ba Swe

imagesize = 240px
order = 2nd Prime Minister of Union of Myanmar
term_start = June 12 1956
term_end = February 25 1957
predecessor = U Nu
successor = U Nu
birth_date = birth date|1915|10|17
birth_place = Dawei
death_date = death date and age|1987|12|6|1915|10|17
death_place = Yangon
nationality = Myanmar
party = Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League
spouse = Nu Nu Swe
relations =
children = Nay Nwe Ba Swe
Nay Myo Ba Swe
Nay Hpu Ba Swe
Nay Tun Ba Swe
Nay Nyunt Ba Swe
Nay Min Ba Swe
Nay Kyi Ba Swe
Nay Si Ba Swe
Nay Ye Ba Swe

residence =
alma_mater =
occupation =
profession =
religion = Buddhist

website =
footnotes =

U Ba Swe (October 17, 1915 - December 6 1987) was the second Prime Minister of Myanmar (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 June 12 1956 to February 28 1957. When Ba Swe became prime minister, "Time" magazine reported the news in an article titled: 'The Day of the Tiger' based on his nick name 'Big Tiger' ("Kyah gyi" Ba Swe) since his university days in the 1930s as a student leader. [cite web|url=,9171,862231,00.html|title=The Day of the Tiger|year=June 18 1956|publisher="Time" magazine]

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). [cite web|url=|title=The Statement on the Commemoration of Bo Aung Kyaw|month=December | year=1999|publisher=All Burma Students League|accessdate=2006-10-16] cite book|author=Martin Smith|year=1991|title=Burma - Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity|publisher=Zed Books|location=London and New Jersey|pages=54,57,163,176,178,186] 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 Socialist Party after the war. Ba Swe was also known for his penchant for wearing dark glasses.


In 1942 Ba Swe married Nu Nu Swe, daughter of U Hlaing Phyu, the owner of mining and lands in Palaw Township, Myeik District. They had nine children.


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. 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 9 months U Nu resumed office as Prime Minister on February 28 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 June 4 1958 and tabled a motion of no-confidence against U Nu in Parliament. On June 8 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.cite book|url=|author=D.G.E.Hall|year=1960|title=Burma|publisher=Hutchinson University Library|pages=187,189|format=PDF]

Allegedly due to the instability arising from the split in the AFPFL and to the escalating insurgent problems U Nu on September 26 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 October 28 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'. (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 myè 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 "pa hta sa"). U Nu's Union Party won the 1960 elections by a landslide.

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' etat in March 1962. Hence he was not among those detained by Ne Win's 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 October 27 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 October 28 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 three-men 'Internal Unity Advisory Board' that Ne Win's Revolutionary Council formed on December 2 1968. The Board was to report to the RC by May 31 1969 on ways of promoting national unity.

Ba Swe died in Rangoon in December 1987.


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