Hla Aung

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Hla Aung
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Born (1923-08-05) August 5, 1923 (age 100)
Minbu District, Magwe Division, Myanmar
  • BA
  • B.L degree
  • MA in Public Administration
  • L.L.M
Alma mater
  • University of Rangoon
  • University of Minnesota
  • Harvard Law School
  • U Kaing (father)
  • Ma Mya Khin (mother)

Hla Aung is a Burmese Lawyer who became Attorney General of Myanmar from 1971-1974 and taught as the Head of Law Department within the Rangoon Arts and Science University (Currently Yangon University). He is also regarded as the first Burmese Student of Harvard Law School (Class of 1955).

Early life

Professor Hla Aung was born on 8th August 1923 in a small village in Sedoktaya township, Minbu District, Magwe Division, Myanmar. Hla Aung's ancestors on both sides were of peasant stock; but those on his father's side belonged to a long line of hereditary Ywathughis (Village Headmen). With the coming of British rule, however, in 1886, U (Pron: OO) Kaing Hla Aung's father, broke this family tradition and decided to become a government worker in the Land Records Department.

So after completing a course of Studies at the Government Survey School in Shwe bo in upper Burma, U Kaing was appointed as Revenue Surveyor and posted to Salin township in Minbu District where he met (Miss) Ma Mya Khin, who later became Hla Aung's mother.


When the young boy was about six years old, Hla Aung was sent to the village kindergarten, a government - recognized primary school. Being an intelligent and obedient student, Hla Aung finished primary school in four years.

Hla Aung's father, who wanted his son to be educated in English, sent him to the Anglo-Vernacular High School in Salin town, some thirty miles from Tabwinywa where Vernacular Primary School was situated.

The High School authorities placed Hla Aung in the 2nd Grade since he could not recite the English alphabet form A to Z. He however, found himself ahead of other class-mates in subjects other than English. He, therefore, concentrated on English and worked feverishly on improving his knowledge of English with the result that when the half-yearly promotion examination was held in October, Hla Aung's name topped the list of successful students who were moved one Grade up, thus winning "a double promotion." The studious young boy worked hard by keeping the momentum thus accelerating his ascent up the academic ladder. Hla Aung finally passed the Tenth Grade (Matriculation) Examination a year earlier. The accolade Hla Aung received from his school Manager was that he was "a steady and conscientious worker."[1]

Hla Aung wanted to pursue further studies at the University of Rangoon, But his graduation from Salin High School coincided with his father's retirement from government service and the outbreak of the second world war in 1941. So Hla Aung's parents could not afford to send him to the University. Consequently, Hla Aung had to work full-time and study part-time to support his parents and to work for the B.A degree as a private candidate. He got his B.A (Bachelor of Arts) degree in 1950 and the B.L (Bachelor of Laws) degree in 1952. In the list of successful candidates for the B.L degree, Hla Aung stood first in order of merit. But Hla Aung's thirst for higher and further education was almost unquenchable. He applied for and won a Fulbright and Smidth-Mundt Scholarship from the United States Educational Foundation in Rangoon for a year's further study in the U.S.A. The Scholarship was tenable at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis for a period of one academic year commencing from August, 1952.[1]

Hla Aung arrived in Minnesota late in July 1952 and was duly inducted into a course of studies leading to the degree of Master of Arts in Public Administration (M.A.P.A). He completed the course work before the end of the academic year. But just before the end of the academic year Hla Aung received word from the Embassy of the Union of Burma in Washington D.C that he had been awarded a government State Scholarship tenable for a period of four years. The scholarship was to begin upon expiry of the Fulbright Scholarship. So Hla Aung continued working for the MAPA degree. Meanwhile, Hla aung's academic advisor, Prof-George Warp of the Public Administration Program, told him that if he were to study law, the best Institution to go to was Harvard Law School.

So after completing his Master's Thesis, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Examiners, Hla Aung left for Massachusetts to join the Harvard Law School in September 1953. After a grueling two-year struggle with the case method or Harvard style of teaching law, Hla Aung came out of Harvard with a L.L.M in 1955.[2]


U Hla Aung is a noted law scholar who commented on the nature of Custom, Religion, and Law in Modern Burma. After graduating Harvard Law School, he worked as an academic at the National University of Singapore and Rangoon Arts and Science University.

In his role as the Attorney General of Burma (1971-1974), Hla Aung viewed the transplantation of Common British Law into Myanmar negatively and that it could "shatter the whole fabric of Burmese law". He also argues the definition of "law" in a Burmese concept and engages in a structuring a timeline of Myanmar Law; namely the "Age of the Dhammathats", British Colonialism, and independence. He does not acknowledge the "Hindu" origins of the dhammathats, and asserts a difference with Hindu legal writings.[3] On legal education, Hla Aung has published a brief note describing the state of legal education in the late 1950s, in which he diagnosed the need for “radical change in modern Burmese legal education.”[4]

Works and publications

Hla Aung (1958), A Brief Note on Legal Education, 1 Burma L. Institute Journal

Hla Aung (1961) ‘The Law of Preventive Detention in Burma’ 3(1) Journal of the International Commission of Jurists 47–67

Hla Aung (1968) The Effect of Anglo-Indian Legislation on Burmese Customary Law, in FAMILY LAW AND CUSTOMARY LAW IN ASIA: A CONTEMPORARY LEGAL PERSPECTIVE 67, 88 (David C. Buxbaum ed., 1968). [1]

Hla Aung (1969) Burmese Concept of Law, 52 J. Burma research Society [2]

Hla Aung (2008) Law and Justice in Myanmar, Tun Foundation Bank Literary Committee


  1. 1.0 1.1 Aung, Hla (2008). Law and Justice in Myanmar. Myanmar: Tun Foundation Bank Literary Committee. p. 302.
  2. Zan, Myint (2008). "Legal Education in Burma Since the 1960s" (PDF). Journal of Burmese Studies. 12: 43 – via Project Muse.
  3. Crouch, Melissa (2014-06-08). "burmalibrary" (PDF). Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal. 23, No. 3: 548 – via JSTOR.
  4. Aung, Hla (1958). "A Brief Note on Legal Education in Burma". Burma Law Journal (1958).

External links

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