By Peter Aung
Pivotal Burmese civil society leader Nay Win Maung has died of a heart attack, aged 50.
A close friend of the founder of the prominent Myanmar Egress group, Kyaw Linn Oo, told DVB that he was submitted to Rangoon General Hospital around 11pm last night.
“He suffered from vascular occlusion which led to a heart attack,” he said. “He was driving back home when the chest pain kicked in so he drove to hospital instead – his family followed him there after they learnt about it.”
Born in 1962, he graduated from Rangoon Medical University-1 in 1998, and went on to win a political science fellowship at Yale University in the US in 2004. He became CEO of the Living Colour Media Group, which publishes The Voice Weekly news journal, as well as forming Myanmar Egress.
“His death is such a great loss,” said Zeya Thu, coordinator at The Voice Weekly. “There are so many things left for him to do for our country.
“He knew that he was ill but he couldn’t find the time to attend to it. Now the heart disease has taken his life and he is such an irreplaceable loss to us. If we really love and respect him, we will have to keep striving to achieve his goals.”
Nay Win Maung became something of a controversial figure in his role at Egress, which critics see as closely aligned with the Burmese government. His relationship with President Thein Sein has come under scrutiny, with rumours circulating that Nay Win Maung scripted at least of Thein Sein’s key speeches after coming to power.
His admirers however see Egress as an increasingly influential force in Burma’s emerging civil society sector. Until his death, he had attempted to broker peace talks between the government and ethnic armed groups.
Maung Zarni a Burmese analyst and former acquaintance of Nay Win Maung, said: “While our political views came to diverge radically – and I had criticised him publicly – at the personal level I have always considered him a deeply patriotic man trying to do the impossible in spite of severe attacks on him, including from people like me.”
Dr Nay Win Maung is survived by his wife, Win Kalyar Swe, and four daughters. His funeral was held on 1 January at Yayway Cemetery in Rangoon.