Myanmar committed to completely wiping out narcotic drugs with or without external assistance

Opium production in Myanmar drops to 40% in ten years

Secretary-1 attends 15th Ceremony for Destruction of Seized Narcotic Drugs

( May 12, 2001 )


The 15th Ceremony for Destruction of Seized Narcotic Drugs of Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control was held at Aungthabye Yeyeiktha on Kyaikwaing Pagoda Road in Mayangon Township this morning, attended by Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt.

Also present on the occasion were member of the State Peace and Development Council Chairman of Yangon Division Peace and Development Council Commander Maj-Gen Khin Maung Than, Chairman of Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control Minister for Home Affairs Col Tin Hlaing, Vice-Chairman Minister for Foreign Affairs U Win Aung, ministers, deputy ministers, leaders of delegation to Ministerial level meeting of the signatory countries to Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control in East Asia and the Pacific Sub-region and members, observers, delegates of UNDCP and Drug Control Programme for East Asia and sub-region in the Pacific Region, heads of department, ambassadors, Charges d’ Affairs ai, military attaches, resident representatives of UN Agencies and officials, Secretary of CCDAC Director-General of Myanmar Police Force Police Maj-Gen Soe Win and members, members of work committees, senior officers of MPF, officials of Ministry of Information, Patron of Foreign Correspondents Club U Sein Win, President of FCC U Sao Kai Hpa and foreign correspondents, correspondents of foreign news agencies, local and foreign newsmen and guests.

Secretary of CCDAC Director-General of Myanmar Police Force Police Maj-Gen Soe Win reported on latest developments on Myanmar’s endeavours for eradication of narcotic drugs. He said :

At the outset, on behalf of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, may I thank you all for your august presence at this 15th ceremony for Destruction of seized Narcotic Drugs.

I would like to state that today’s ceremony is an auspicious due, which is different from the previous occasions, because we are able to invite representatives from countries in the sub-region who have come to attend the Senior Officials Level Meeting and the Ministerial Level Meeting of 6 Nations MoU on Drug Control in the Sub-region and it is a privilege to explain and share our experience with them.

You are well aware that opium cultivation started to take root and proliferate in our country owing to the evil legacy of the colonialists. The divide-and-rule system exercised by them turned Myanmar into a State of insurgency after she gained her independence. Insurgency and opium cultivation and production are inter-linked and it had not been easy to unravel them. After independence, successive governments tried to find a solution through military, political and organizational means and by means of negotiation, but no successful solution was identified.

With the advent of the State Law and Order Restoration Council in 1988, emphasis was placed on national solidarity, re consolidation and development of border areas. Realizing the goodwill and benevolence of the government, 17 armed groups relinquished their armed struggle and returned to the legal fold.

This success facilitated the first and foremost opportunity after independence for the all round development of Myanmar and the enhancement of the basic needs of the national races of border areas.

The prevalence of peace and stability in Myanmar enabled access to formerly inaccessible and far-flung opium cultivation and production areas. Due to the changes that are taking place it is perceived that eradication of drugs could be achieved gradually, it law enforcement is carried out hand in hand with regional development.

Hence, the State leaders laid down the following two strategies for the elimination of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

The designating narcotic drug eradication as a national duty and the comprehensive implementation of that strategy.

To development and enhancement of the standard of living of the national races in the border areas and total eradication of poppy cultivation.

In order to implement the above two strategies, three tactics namely, Law Enforcement, Supply Elimination and Development Elimination are laid down.

And to realise the above two strategies and tactics, the following three methods are to be practically utilised:-

For the producer and abuser of narcotic drugs to enlighten their belief, conviction and their psychological make-up for the better.

For the easy accessibility and communication between those national races on the highland and those at various other places.

To development the socio-economic condition of the national races and border areas.

These policies and directives reflect he true desire and intention of the state leaders to wipe out the scourge of narcotic drugs.

In our country, poppy and heroin are mainly cultivated and produced in the Eastern and North Eastern part of Myanmar where communication is extremely difficult. These regions are in close proximity to China and Thailand where we also share very long and porous borders with them.

For many years, the poor national races cultivated opium poppy without hindrance, which had been the evil legacy of colonialism. After independence, successive governments attempted to eliminate poppy cultivation, utilizing force to destroy poppy fields without any success. With the advent of the military government, these opium growers were provided with special programmes with a view to obtaining alternative from agriculture and animal husbandry.

In addition, the Ministry of Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs was also established to effectively and expeditiously implement development programmes. Communication, education, health and border area developments programmes were undertaken.

However, it is regrettable that as we are afforded with the opportunity to undertake drug eradication programmes in these once inaccessible areas and gaining momentum in our endeavours, due to political reasons, external assistance from western countries were discontinued.

However as we have already set our goals to completely wipe out narcotic drugs as our national duty, we are committed to achiever our goal whether we receive external assistance or not. Without relying on external assistance and based on our own resources, we have drawn up a 15 Year Drug Elimination Plan, commenced from 1999 and will terminate in 2014.

This 15 Year Plan is to be implemented in the 5 Year Phases. We have already implemented the first of the first 5 Year Phase. 25 townships are targeted in the first 5 year phase, 20 townships in the second phase and 9 townships in the third phase. Agriculture, animal husbandry, construction of roads and bridges, communication and transportation, energy, trade and commerce will be affected. On the other hand, for demand reduction, treatment and rehabilitation, educating the students and youths, mass media information and law enforcement will be harmoniously executed.

The expenditure for the first year (1999-2000) of the first 5 Year phase amounted to 1319.6054 million Kyats and 1.495 million US$. The total expenditure for the 15 Year Plan is estimated at 33588.136 million Kyats and 150 million US$.

I would like to appraise not only the distinguished guests who are gathered here but also the international community that Myanmar has been combating drugs with might and main based on self reliance, and without any international assistance.

Here I wish to cite Mr Sandro Calvani, Representative of the UNDCP regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific who stated during the World Drug Report 2000 press briefing on January 23, 2001 that the Myanmar Government has carried out the fight against narcotic drugs with all out efforts, that although newspapers are reporting and portraying as if Myanmar as a whole is producing drugs, which is not the case as drugs are produced only in some areas in the border areas. He also stated that reporters should get permission from the government and visit border areas and be better informed of the real situation.

Mr Calvani briefed that opium poppy farmers at the border areas are earning only 100 $ US annually and that narcotic drugs could be eliminated by crop substitution to obtain alternative income and UNDCP is lobbying funds to provide assistance to Myanmar’s crop substitution programmes. However he stated that UNDCP is unable to secure sufficient funds to implement projects wholly because of political blockade. During the last 3 years, the ratio of drug control assistance funds received from donor community by Myanmar and Thailand is 1 to 300.

Mr Calvani spoke favourably about Myanmar’s fight against narcotic drugs, and I wish to go on record that it clearly portrays Myanmar’s dependence on its own resources and efforts.

With reference to Myanmar’s Law Enforcement sector, according to Base Line Surveys conducted annually as a nationwide movement since 1998, we have witnessed a declining trend in poppy cultivation. In 1998/99 cultivation season, the acreage was 102,066.766, in 1999/2000, cultivation acreage dropped to 90,455.1 acres and in 2000.2001, acreage continued to drop to 81,661.10.

Manual eradication was also carried out annually by enforcement agencies and looking at figures, in 1988/99 season 9824.667 acres were destroyed, while in 1999/2000 season—10,987.762 acres and in 2000/2001 season-23,007.359 acres were destroyed. Year after year as the cultivation decreased, we have been able to destroy more acreage of cultivation.

The Annual Reoirt of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) for year 2000 showed that out of the global production of 5,800 metric tons of opium, 79% was produced in Afghanistan, 6% was produced in other countries while Myanmar produced only 15%. It showed that production in Myanmar dropped to 40% during the past 10 years. Climatic factor may be cited as one of the reasons.

However, it is an undeniable fact that the efforts of the Myanmar government, in spite of numerous constraints, contributed towards the decline.

In this regard, the Yangon UNDCP press briefing of the INCB Annual Report, also stated Myanmar’s effort in implementing a 15 Year Drug Elimination Plan starting 1999. It was stated that the total value of opium produced in Myanmar amounts to only 116 million US$, so it is feasible to generate substitute income. It also stated 96% of the poppy farmers in the "Wa" Region cultivated opium owing to insufficient rice and they would easily stop cultivating opium if alternative crop is available.

In spite of this positive trend, it is unfortunate that external assistance is not forthcoming. A review of international funding for drug control programmes in Myanmar reached its lowest point in 15 years in 2001. Myanmar’s actual and factual situation was highlighted in this press briefing and it is evident that the decline in opium production is the result of the endeavours of the Myanmar government.

If we review the figures of drug seizures in Myanmar, since 1988 annual seizures have been dropping significantly. This declining trend supported the assessment that poppy cultivation and production in Myanmar has been dropping considerably since 1997.

On the other hand, seizures of Amphetamine-Type-Stimulants in Myanmar were first made in 1996. Subsequently, ephedrine used for the production of stimulants was seized staring 1997. We are very much aware that neighbouring countries had been plagued with this problem for over a decade. It can be stated that ATS drugs came into Myanmar only around 1996. But it is a fact that these ATS tablets were produced for the international market inside and along the Myanmar border areas with precursor chemicals and paraphernalia trafficked in illegally from neighbouring countries.

With regards to ATS, at the International Conference for a Drug Free ASEAN by 2015 organised by ASEAN and UNDCP in Bangkok on October 11, 200, the US representative Mr Jim Callahan stated that he had visited the Wa Alternative Development Project, and stated that it would be difficult to implement a development programme in such a far-flung and remote area, but he believed that the basic foundation had been laid, which is an indication of the success of the crop substitution programme.

He rightfully pointed out that local poppy farmers are involved in the stimulant production and stated it clearly shows the hand of international drug syndicates working for a profit;- a fact that calls for increased law enforcement strategies. This statement truly brought out the real nature of stimulant drugs production in the border areas of Myanmar.

Also, stimulants still have limited market in Myanmar. Ephedrine powder, the starting material or precursor chemical for manufacturing stimulants in neither produced nor available in Myanmar. Moreover, chemists and skilled technicians for the production of stimulants and specific substances are not readily available in Myanmar either.

In this connection, it is quite obvious that international drug syndicates, in collusion with local drug traffickers, are illicitly manufacturing stimulants for the international markets.

In this regard, under the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, for interdiction purposes, up to 1999, 18 anti-drug units had been deployed at major trafficking routes and strategic locations around the country.

However, due to the fact on drug production, changes in trafficking routes, increased production of stimulant drugs, trafficking routes of precursor chemicals and paraphernalia, increased coordination and cooperation with neighbouring countries, 3 new anti-drug units were formed at Bhamaw, Bago and the new Mandalay International Airport while some anti-drug units are redeployed due to the changing trafficking routes and drugs situation in the country.

Myanmar, as a signatory to the 1988 UN Convention and to be in line with the stipulations of the Convention, 8 precursor chemicals were notified as controlled chemicals used in the production of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Due to the escalating problem of ATS production on the Thai Myanmar border, and a increasing percentage of caffeine in ATS tablets, on October 2, 2000 under notification 3/2000, caffeine was added to the list of controlled precursor chemicals.

In addition, under notification 1/2001 a supplementary list of 12 precursor chemicals were also notified as chemicals used in the production of narcotic drugs. To date Myanmar has 21 controlled chemicals.

Myanmar is not only taking vigorous measures to suppress narcotic drugs domestically, but is also cooperating closely with neighbouring countries such as China, Thailand, Laos and India, conducting alternate cross border meeting at the border to solve drug problems arising and affecting along the common borders.

Myanmar has bilateral agreements on drug control with countries within the region such as China, Laos, Vietnam. Philippines and also the Russian Federation, which is outside the region. Myanmar is also a signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Abuse Control with China, Thailand Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and has been actively implementing the Sub regional Action Plan Projects agreed upon by the MoU.

With respect to international relations, Myanmar is an active player during last year, hosting the 20th Meeting of the ASEAN Chief of Police (ASEANAPOL) in May 2000. Similarly, in November 2000, Myanmar hosted the 24th Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies of Asia and the Pacific in Yangon.

What I have presented this morning illustrates the stand taken by Myanmar concerning drug elimination and the efforts made to realise it.

In conclusion, I would like to say that since 21990 when we first conducted ceremony for the destruction of seized drugs, we have now reached to the 15th occasion.

As the amount of drugs that have been torched since the first to the fourteenth destructions including the amount to the destroyed today have been distributed, I shall not go into detail on it but give you a highlight on the drugs we are going to destroy today, which are:-

Opium 1301.428 kgs

Heroin 116.469 kgs

Marijuana 439.931 kgs

ATS Tablets 27248615 tablets (2724 kgs)

Ephedrine 1562.692 kgs

The opium, heroin and stimulants we are going to burn this morning is worth 900 million US$ in the streets of the United States of America. The grand total of all the narcotic drugs destroyed today is estimated at 920 million US$.

You are kindly invited to inspect the authenticity of the drugs displayed at the adjacent field before they are set ablaze by yourself.

I would to conclude my presentation by extending my deep appreciation to members of the State Peace and Development Council, Diplomats, Military Attache and invited guests, who have given time from your busy schedule to grace this occasion.

The Secretary-1 and party and guests watched bottles of cough mixture which contains narcotic drugs being destroyed by the rollers.

Then, diplomats, military attaches and officials of UN Agencies tested narcotic drugs which will be burnt.

Afterwards, General Secretary Lt-Gen Em Sam An of National Anti-Drug Authority of Cambodia, Director-General Mr Yang Fengrui of National Narcotic Drug Control Commission (NNCC) of the People’s Republic of China, Chairman General National Drug Control Commission of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Minister Mr Soubanh Srithirath at the Prime Minister of Thailand, Deputy Minister Police General Le The Tiem of Narcotic Drug Control National Committee of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Ambassador of the Russian Federation Mr Gleb A Ivashentsov, Ambassador of Japan Mr Shigeru Tsumori, Ambassador of Korea Mr Chung Jung-Gum, Ambassador of Cambodia Mr Nim Chantara and Mr Sandro Calvan of UNDCP and Drug Control Programme for East Asia and sub-region in the Pacific Region who attended the Ministerial level meeting of the signatory countries to Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control in East Asia and the Pacific Sub-region pressed the buttons of remote controls to set on fire the narcotic drugs.

Then, the Secretary-1 and party and guests inspected torching the narcotic drugs.

A total of 1,301.48 kilos of opium, 116.469 kilos of heroin, 4.614 kilos of opium oil, 255.946 kilos of opium liquid, 493.931 kilos of marijuana, 296.090 litres of Phensedyl, 27,248,615 stimulant tablets, 1,562.692 kilos of Ephedrine powder, 15.194 kilos of opium powder, ten kilos of brown opium, 153.370 litres of cough mixture, 0.8 litre of Methadone, ten kilos of Pethadine, 1,244 Diphenoxylate tablets, 150,000 Lizotan tablets, 54,000 Ephedrine tablets, 18,304 litres of Codinephosphate, 6,343 Phenobarbital tablets, 604 Methaqualone tablets were destroyed . According to the street price in US, the value of narcotic drugs was US $ 920 million.

The first destruction of seized narcotic drugs was held on 13 February 1990.

The total of narcotic drugs destroyed up to the 15th destruction were 123,694.208 kilos of opium, 3,747.529 kilos of heroin, 159.519 kilos of opium oil, 435.604 kilos of opium liquid, 5,417.709 kilos of marijuana, 30,417.015 litres of Phensedyl, 80,855,208 stimulant tablets, 11,582.442 kilos of Ephedrine powder, 231.819 kilos of brown opium, 1,518.121 litres of cough mixture which contains opium, 1,489 bottles of injection containing opium, 39,177 cough tablets, 7,911 Methaqualone tablets, 34.277 kilos of low grade opium, 722,32 Diphenoxylate tablets, 10 Morphine Sulphate tablets, 544,58 Ephedrine tablets, 8,008 Phenobarbital tablets, 23 bottles of Phenobarbital injection, 30.452 kilos of stimulant, 10.8 litres of Methadone, 2,143.471 kilos of Phenyl Acetic Acid, 21.787 kilos of opium powders and 150,000 Lizotan tablets.

The value of narcotic drugs destroyed up to the 14th destruction was about US $ 3,600 million according to the retail price in the US.

The total value of narcotic drugs destroyed up to the 15th destruction was US $ 4,520 million.