Ba Maw having just been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, March 1943
|Head of State (Naingandaw Adipadi)|
1 August 1943 - 27 March 1945
|1st Premier of British Crown Colony of Burma|
|None - direct rule under British Raj of British India|
|Born||8 February 1893|
|Died||29 May 1977 (aged 84)|
Khin Ma Ma Maw
(m. 1926; died 1967)
|Relations||Ba Han (brother)|
|Children||7 including: Banya Maw and Tinsa Maw|
|Parents||Shwe Kye (father)|
Thein Tin (mother)
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge|
University of Bordeaux
Ba Maw (Burmese: , pronounced [ba? m]; 8 February 1893 – 29 May 1977) was a Burmese barrister and political leader, active during the interwar and World War II periods. He was 1st Burma Premier (1937- 1939) and head of state of Burma (now Myanmar) from 1943 to 1945.
Ba Maw was born in Maubin. Ba Maw came from a distinguished family of mixed Mon-Burman parentage which bred many scholars and lawyers. His father, U Shwe Kye was an ethnic Mon from Amherst (now Kyaikkhami) and well-versed in French and English languages. Thus U Shwe Kye served as a royal diplomat who accompanied Kinwun Mingyi U Kaung in the Burmese diplomatic missions to Europe in the 1870s, and worked as an assistant tutor to Royal tutor Dr. Mark at the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy. Ba Maw's elder brother, Professor Dr Ba Han (1890-1969), was a lawyer as well as a lexicographer and legal scholar, and served as Attorney General of Burma from 1957- 1958.
After an education at the Rangoon University, Ba Maw obtained MA degree from the University of Calcutta in 1917. Then he was educated at Cambridge University in England and received a law degree from Gray's Inn where he was called to the bar in 1923. He went on to obtain a doctoral degree from the University of Bordeaux, France. Ba Maw wrote his doctoral thesis in the French language on aspects of Buddhism in Burma.
After getting his first degree BA from the Rangoon University in 1913, Ba Maw started to work as a teacher in Rangoon government high school and later in ABM school. In 1917, he got MA degree from the University of Calcutta and became the first English lecturer at the Rangoon University where he worked for the next four years.
From the 1920s onwards Ba Maw practised law and dabbled in colonial-era Burmese politics. He achieved prominence in 1931 when he defended the rebel leader, Saya San. Saya San had started a tax revolt in Burma in December 1930 which quickly grew into a more widespread rebellion against British rule. Saya San was captured, tried, convicted and hanged. Ba Maw was among the top lawyers who defended Saya San. One of the presiding judges that tried Saya San was another Burmese lawyer Ba U.
Starting from the early 1930s Ba Maw became an outspoken advocate for Burmese self-rule. He at first opposed Burma's colonial separation from British India, but later supported it. After a period as education and public health minister, he served as the first Prime Minister or Premier of Burma (during the British colonial period) from 1937 to February 1939, after first being elected as a member of the Poor Man's Party to the Legislature. He opposed the participation of Great Britain, and by extension Burma, in World War II. He resigned from the Legislature and was arrested for sedition on 6 August 1940. Ba Maw spent over a year in jail as a political prisoner. He was incarcerated for most of the time in Mogok jail, situated in a hill station in eastern Burma.
During the early stages of World War II, from January to May 1942, the Imperial Japanese Army quickly overran Burma, and after the capture of Rangoon, freed Ba Maw from prison. During the Japanese occupation of Burma, Ba Maw was asked by the Japanese to head a provisional civilian administration to manage day-to-day administrative activities subordinate to the Japanese military administration. This Burmese Executive Administration was established on 1 August 1942.
As the war situation gradually turned against the Japanese, the Japanese government advanced its previously vague promise to grant Burma independence after the end of the war. The Japanese felt that this would give the Burmese a real stake in an Axis victory in the Second World War, creating resistance against possible re-colonization by the western powers, and increased military and economic support from Burma for the Japanese war effort. A Burma Independence Preparatory Committee chaired by Ba Maw was formed 8 May 1943 and the nominally independent State of Burma was proclaimed on 1 August 1943 with Ba Maw as "Naingandaw Adipadi" (head of state) as well as prime minister. The new state quickly declared war on the United Kingdom and the United States, and concluded a Treaty of Alliance with the Empire of Japan. Ba Maw attended the Greater East Asia Conference in Tokyo in November 1943, where he made a speech speaking of how it was the call of Asiatic blood that drew them together into a new era of unity and peace. However, the new state failed to secure popular support or diplomatic recognition due to the continued presence and activities of the Imperial Japanese Army, and after their collaborationist allies, the Burma National Army defected to the Allies side, the government collapsed.
Ba Maw fled just ahead of invading British troops via Thailand to Japan, where he was captured  later that year by the American occupation authorities and was held in Sugamo Prison until 1946. He then was allowed to return to Burma, after Burma became independent of Great Britain and he remained active in politics. He was jailed briefly during 1947, on suspicion of involvement in the assassination of Aung San, but was soon released.
After General Ne Win (1910-2002) took over power in 1963 Ba Maw was again imprisoned (like many prominent Burmese of the period who were detained during the time of Ne Win regime, from the 1960s to the 1980s, his imprisonment was without charge or trial) from about 1965 or 1966 to February 1968. During the period of his imprisonment Ba Maw managed to smuggle out a manuscript of his memoirs of the War years less than two of which (from 1 August 1943 to March 1945) he was Head of State (in Burmese naing-ngan-daw-adipadi, lit. 'paramount ruler of the State').
He never again held political office. His book Breakthrough in Burma: Memoirs of a Revolution, 1939–1946, an account of his role during the war years, was published by Yale University Press (New Haven) in 1968. In the post-war period he founded the Mahabama (Greater Burma) Party. He died in Rangoon on 28 May 1977.
Ba Maw married Khin Ma Ma (13 December 1905 - 1967) on 5 April 1926. The couple went on to have 7 children including Binnya Maw and Tinsa Maw. His daughter Tinsa Maw got married with Bo Yan Naing of Thirty comrades in June 1944. Tinsa Maw-Naing, daughter of Ba Maw, wrote a memoir of her father and his family, "A Burmese Heart", published by Yin Mon Vanessa Han in 2015, and available as Print on Demand. This book adds a lot to the knowledge we have of the man and his political positioning.