Colonel Tin Hlaing opens 24th Meeting of Heads of Law EnforcementAgencies of Asia


Tin Hlaing opens 24th Meeting of Heads of Law

Enforcement Agencies of Asia-Pacific Region, HONLEA

H.E.Colonel Tin Hlaing, Chairman

of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control and Minister for Home Affairs,

Union of Myanmar delivered the opening address at the 24th

Meeting of Heads of Law Enforcement Agencies of the Asia-Pacific Region on14

November 2000.





from UNDCP


and Gentlemen

At the outset,

on behalf of the Government of the Union of Myanmar and the Central Committee

for Drug Abuse Control, Ministry of Home Affairs, I have great pleasure in

extending a very warm welcome to you all.

As the Chairman

of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control of Myanmar and also in the

capacity of the Minister for Home Affairs, it is a privilege to be afforded with

the opportunity to deliver an opening address to this very important 24th

Meeting of the Heads of Law Enforcement Agencies of the Asia-Pacific Region,

organized by the UNDCP and hosted by the Union of Myanmar.





international community is now fully aware of the problem of narcotic drugs and

the dangers that has been threatening the human society. The traffic of illicit

drugs, transcending international borders, has taken its rightful place to

become a major transnational crime.

As stated, the

illicit trafficking of drugs has also become the major transnational crime

committed in our region. The huge profits generated by the drug trade has

triggered incentives to drug traffickers that they do not heed anymore even to

the death penalties prescribed in national legislations for drug crimes.

Drug trafficking

crimes have not only seriously undermined the economy, political and social

fabrics, but also the stability of community peace and tranquillity and national

security of country states.

In this

connection, it is fitful that we welcome the initiative taken by all concerned

member states and the United Nations in drafting the UN Convention against

Transnational Crimes at Vienna, soon to be signed in December, 2000 at Palermo,





It is apparent

that the fight against drugs trafficking could neither be fought nor won by one

country alone nor by leaving out one country. Drug traffickers take footholds in

countries that lack or have weak anti-drug legislations, irrelevant enforcement

strategies and outdated interdiction tactics. They would then take full

advantage of these shortcomings to traffic drugs in and out of the country, thus

affecting and creating a threat to neighboring countries.

It is imperative

that one country should not be left out but all countries should stand together

based on mutual understanding, trust and cooperative spirit, to form a strong

and united front. This is why we are gathered here today.

There is no

question that UNDCP plays a key role in the combat against drugs. To this end,

we have witnessed the enhanced and effective efforts of UNDCP, particularly

during the tenure of UN Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan and Deputy

Secretary-General, Mr. Pino Arlacchi.

Drugs affect all

human lives, thus, each and every one of us has an obligation and responsibility

to fight against it. However, sad to say, it becomes blurred and out of focus

when efforts of individual countries are viewed and tainted with political


It is very

important that countries have a political will and a strong commitment to fight

and eliminate the scourge of drugs. Myanmar has been embarking on a 15 Year

Master Plan commencing 1999-2000 to totally eliminate drugs in the country by

2014. We are very much encouraged that ASEAN has set course on the same agenda

as Myanmar on its ASEAN Vision 2020 by reducing the target date to Drug Free

ASEAN 2015 at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting at Bangkok in July this year.

Subsequently, last month in Bangkok, ASEAN and China agreed on a Drug Free ASEAN

2015 Plan of Action.

The Meeting here

today is a clear testimony and indication of participating countries of their

political will and commitment to cooperate with other countries in the fight

against drugs in the region. In this connection, I am sad to say that it left us

no choice but to assume that some responsible countries, which have decided to

boycott the meeting for various reasons, do not harbour sincere intentions for

cooperation with other countries and on the same time, have s blatantly ignored

an International Meeting organized by the UN.

I am not in a

position to say what their intentions are but whatever reasons they may have, we

have a clear conscience to work together with whoever who wants to work with us

and help us. To this end we have the doors wide open and stand ready to show our

efforts, our achievements as well as our shortcomings and to welcome the sincere

assistance and cooperation of the sinternational community.




Myanmar has been

showing her political will and commitment to work together particularly with

neighboring countries in the region. Not only do we have bilateral agreements

with Vietnam, the Philippines and the Russian Federation as well as a Tripartite

Agreement with Laos and Thailand but also we are an active member of the 6

sub-regional countries MOU to control drugs with a balanced approach by

implementing supply and demand reduction and law enforcement projects of the

Sub-regional Action Plan. UNDCP has been assisting us with financial and

technical support with funding from donor countries.

Myanmar became a

full-fledged member of ASEAN in July 1997 and the Prime Minister; Senior General

Than Shwe briefed the ASEAN Summit on drug control endeavors of Myanmar. Mr.

Koffi Annan, UN Secretary General, attending the Summit Meeting was impressed

and subsequently dispatched an expert team in 1998 to draft a 10 year plan to

eradicate poppy cultivation and production in the whole country. UNDCP Executive

Director Mr. Pino Arlacchi also visited the border areas of Myanmar in the same

year and sanctioned a few small-scale projects.

I was informed

that the UNDCP drafted 10 Year Plan for Myanmar was prepared in time to be

submitted to the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session on Narcotic Drugs.

Sadly, for reasons not stated, UNDCP was not in a position to submit the Plan to

the Special Session. However, I wish to express our gratitude to Mr. Arlacchi

for his keen interest and sincere efforts to help us.

As stated,

Myanmar has been implementing the 15 Year Plan since 1999. I believe that the

majority of the country representatives attending this meeting are much more

oriented with drug trafficking and drug abuse while Myanmar has to deal with the

problem of poppy cultivation and production also. The border areas that are

engaged in poppy cultivation and production were once under the dominance of

insurgents and due to this fact, these regions have been left out of the

mainstream of the country, lagging behind in terms of development, depending

their livelihood on the income from opium poppy.

The government

now has entered into peace agreements with the insurgent groups, opening up

opportunities for all-round-development programmes in these regions. With the

guidance of the Prime Minister himself, border area development projects were

drawn up and a separate Ministry was established to take care of these problems

in a holistic way.

The 15 Year Plan

calls for the gradual elimination of poppy cultivation and production in these

areas supplemented with demand elimination, law enforcement, participation of

the local inhabitants and international cooperation programmes. In this regard,

I sincerely hope that we will have the understanding of the international

community on the complexity of the drug problem and what we have gone through

and our efforts at present to overcome this menace.

The national

races who have been engaged in poppy cultivation for centuries realized the drug

menace and threat to mankind and embraced the policy and strategy laid down by

the government. They have voluntarily promised and declared for the

establishment of opium free zones with phased programmes of their own. The

establishment of the Opium Free Zone in Mong La, in the eastern Shan State in

1997 stands testimony of this success.

Of course, these

changes cannot take place overnight. The distinguished delegates will understand

and realize that it is easier said than done.




Just when we are

starting to see hope in the elimination of poppy cultivation and production with

annual decreasing figures, the problem of stimulants has suddenly taken the


Researchers have

discovered stimulants over a century ago for licit use but it has become to be

an abuse problem in the region just a decade ago. Myanmar faced the problem

starting only in 1996 when we made the first seizure of stimulants.

Starting raw

materials, precursor chemicals are not produced in Myanmar in addition to the

lack of laboratory expertise and financing to produce these drugs. Thus, it

clearly indicates that foreign drug syndicates are exploiting the long, remote

and porous border situation to produce these stimulants on the border area. We

are sceptical that the problem of stimulants has been intentionally created when

the glimmer of hope and possibility is at hand in the total eradication and

production of opium within a few years.

In addition, the

drug trend has been changing with the life styles of youth where freedom and

personal rights to enjoy the pleasures of nightlife are permitted to stretch to

the maximum and beyond limits. It is one of the reasons why it was rightfully

predicted and identified at the UNDCP organized Shanghai International Expert

Meeting on Stimulants in 1996, that stimulants abuse will be the major drug

problem for the 21st century.




We have a saying

in Myanmar that if we know the illness, there is always a medicine to cure it.

In other words, ” if there is a will, there is a way “. It is a

glaring fact that the world is facing a drug problem. Mobilizing the full

awareness and participation of the public, every country should do their utmost

to get rid of it. However, if we do not cure or take measures with the medicine

called ” international cooperation “, the illness will be like a

cancer spreading and eating away the social fabrics of the human society.

There have been

numerous crimes of enormous proportions that the evils of drugs have created,

even undermining the peace and stability of country states. Money laundered from

proceeds of drug trafficking has destroyed the economies of countries. HIV/ AIDS

epidemics are also offspring of drug abuse. The dangers and threat of drugs are

not contained and limited to one area, region or state and have no

discrimination on developed or developing or undeveloped countries. This is the

sole reason that the international community needs to stand together and

cooperate to fight the menace of drugs.




In conclusion,

the 24th Meeting of HONLEA will be discussing practical

issues and problems on law enforcement in the region to find ways and means on

better cooperation between state governments and UNDCP. It will also review the

implementation of decisions taken at the 22nd HONLEA.

I fully believe

that participating countries including Myanmar will benefit a lot in the coming

4 days, from the discussions based on national experience and information

sharing on illicit heroin trafficking and abuse, electronic crimes or cyber

crimes affecting drug trafficking strategy, maritime drug trafficking and

control of stimulants.

I wish to

sincerely urge all delegates to discuss frankly and openly and to share

experiences on a friendly atmosphere to find better ways and means for practical

cooperation. I also urge UNDCP to assist us to realize our common goals in the


I thank the

participating countries and UNDCP for their support and decision providing the

opportunity to Myanmar to host this HONLEA Meeting in Yangon. I thank each and

every one of you who have contributed to make this meeting a success and I thank

Your Excellencies and specially invited guests for taking out time from your

busy schedules to grace this Opening Ceremony.

Thank you.