- By Min Thit (MNA)
Photo: Zaw Min Lat
There remains a century-old two-storey mansion to this day, without any damage to its original structure, at No. 51, University Avenue, Bahan Township, Yangon.
As we enter the mansion, we come face to face with two majestic portraits near the living room. One depicts a middle-aged gent and another of an elderly lady, and both pictures have wooden frames.
The man in the picture is none other than U Ba Win, an Arzarni (martyr) leader who was killed by treacherous people on 19 July 1947, while striving for the independence of Myanmar. The picture was taken just before he was assassinated. The picture of the elderly woman is of his wife who passed away by natural causes in 2007.
U Ba Win lived happily with his family in that two-storey mansion before the incident, and his children are now residing in it.
U Htwe Win, the youngest son of U Ba Win, said, “My father went to office from this house. There is a prayer room upstairs. He did his reading and writing near the prayer room. When he was assassinated, I was only eight months old. Those things about my father were told to me by my mother.”
When U Ba Win passed away, his wife and his six children were left behind, and at that time the eldest daughter was 11 years old and U Htwe Win was only eight months old. At present, U Htwe Win is already 72.
U Ba Win was born to U Phar, a lawyer by profession, and Daw Su. He was the eldest son among nine children. He was also the elder brother of Bogyoke (General) Aung San. U Ba Win was an honest-to-goodness young man, and according to the Burmese saying, “Having an elder brother is like having a father,” he used to teach his brothers and sisters to be intelligent and honest.
U Htwe Win said, “I pity my father. He worked while he was attending college to support his younger brothers, Bogyoke Aung San and U Aung Than. He would take Bogyoke Aung San with him as an interpreter to watch English movies.”
U Ba Win won first prize at Mandalay intermediate college and passed with outstanding marks in in Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics. In 1929, he graduated with B.Sc.(Hons.) in Mathematics. He then worked as a principal at Yenangyoung National High School.
Regarding political activities, he served as chairman of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League Yenangyoung branch, and while he was working as the Minister of Supply & Trade in Bogyoke Aung San’s cabinet, he participated as a member in the Constitution Drafting Committee at the Union Parliament, all the while striving for the independence of Myanmar.
After the martyrs were assassinated, the BOC Company issued gas sale permits to the remaining wives, with a further support of Ks100,000 from the government. According to U Htwe Win, the grant was safeguarded by co-executors, including Myanma Alinn U Tin.
After U Ne Win took power, those gas stations and the plots of land were nationalized, and instead, the families of the fallen martyrs were given Ks1,000 every month, which caused the families hardships due to rising commodity prices.
“Bogyoke Aung San’s wife didn’t take the money. Yebaw Ko Htwe’s family didn’t receive any compensation. The other remaining families did. It was fine at first, but it was different when the economy collapsed after nationalization. We didn’t get back our property although we re-applied for it repeatedly,” U Htwe Win reflected on the past.
Although U Htwe Win is the son of a martyred leader, he had to work as a taxi driver after he graduated as he was unable to secure a permanent job.
“I graduated with Botany and I did gardening. After that I worked as a driver for a taxi owned by my friend. I didn’t feel embarrassed or humiliated to work as a taxi driver, because I was working honestly. Then I worked in a company, and I wasn’t able to be choosy about jobs, once I got married,” said U Htwe Win.
When U Htwe Win grew up, his mother took him to the Martyrs’ Mausoleum every year, and now it has become a regular to pay homage to his father on Martyrs’ Day.
“I knew about my father only when I started my schooling. My mother used to bring me to the mausoleum on every Martyrs’ Day. We offered soon (meals) to the monks and did good deeds for my father every year. Although my mother and my eldest sister have passed away, all of our remaining family members are still living in the same compound,” said U Htwe Win.
It has been 71 years since the martyred leaders fell. There is a saying, “the dead are forgotten in due time,” but this does not hold true for the remaining families of the martyred leaders, nor for the people of the country.
U Htwe Win stares at the two-storey mansion where his father used to live and said, “We will share good deeds for my father. I have already registered to attend the Martyrs’ Mausoleum. My elder brother, Dr. Sein Win, will also come back this year. He wishes to bring his son, who was born abroad, to the Martyrs’ Mausoleum and tell him about his grandfather.”
Translated by Myat Thandar Aung
- U Ba Win
(11 June 1901 – 19 July 1947)
- * U Ba Win served as chairman of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League Yenangyoung branch, and while he was working as the Minister of Supply & Trade in Bogyoke Aung San’s cabinet, he participated as a member in the Constitution Drafting Committee at the Union Parliament, all the while striving for the independence of Myanmar.
- * U Ba Win was born on 11 June 1901 to U Phar, a lawyer, and Daw Su. He was the eldest among nine children, and an elder brother to Bogyoke (General) Aung San.
- * U Ba Win won first prize at Mandalay intermediate college and passed with outstanding marks in Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics. In 1929, he graduated with B.Sc.(Hons.) in Mathematics. He then worked as a principal at Yenangyoung National High School.
- * He married Daw Khin Saw, a daughter of U Aunt and Daw Shwe May in 1935.
- * He was assassinated on 19 July 1947 at 10:37 am.
- * His wife was survived by six children (Ma Tin Hla Win, Maung Saw Win, Ma Khin Mya Win, Maung Sein Win (Dr Sein Win) and Maung Htwe Win.