The 24th Meeting of Heads of Law Enforcement Agencies of the Asia-Pacific Region (HONLEA), organized by the UNDCP and hosted by the Union of Myanmar, was held from 14 to 17 November , 2000 at Hotel Equatorial in Yangon.

H.E Colonel Tin Hlaing, Chairman of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control and Minister for Home Affairs, delivered the keynote address at the opening ceremony.

As known by all, the menace of narcotic drugs has been threatening the human society. The illicit trafficking of drugs has become the major transnational crime. The crimes resulting from drug trafficking 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 encouraging to learn the initiative taken by all menber states concerned and the United Nations in drafting the UN Convention against Transnational Crimes at Vienna, soon to be signed in December, 2000 at Palermo, Italy. In reality, the fight against drug trafficking could neither be waged by one country alone nor by leaving out one country. It is imperative that all countries should stand together based on mutual understanding, trust and cooperative spirit to form a strong and united front. This is why the Myanmar hostes this HONLEA Meeting in Yangon.

This Meeting is 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. However, it is regretable to say 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 at the same time, have blantantly ignored an International Meeting organized by the UN. Myanmar has its doors wide open and stand ready to show its efforts, achievement to the international community.

Myanmar has been showing her political will and commitment to work together particularly with neighbouring countries in the region. Our Head of State Senior General Than Shwe had briefed the ASEAN Summit on drug control measures of Myanmar. Mr. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, attending the Summit was impressed and subsequently dispatched an expert team to draft plan to eradicate poppy cultivation and production in the whole country. With the guidance of our Head of State Senior General Than Shwe, border area development projects were drawn up and a separate Ministry was established to implement the projects.

The national races who have been engaged in poppy cultivation realized the drug menace and threat to mankind and embraced the policy and strategy laid down by the government. While there has been annual decreasing figures in poppy cultivation and production, the problem of stimulants has suddenly taken the stages. Mobilizing the full awareness and participation of the public, every country should do their utmost to get rid of it. The drug menace like a cancer is spreading and eating away the social fabrics of the human society. Money laundered from procceds of drug trafficiking has destroyed the economies of countries. HIV/AIDS epidemics are also offspring of drug abuse.

At the meeting practical issues and problems on law enforcement in the region were discussed to find ways and means on better cooperation between state governments and UNDCP. The implementation of the decisions taken at the 22nd HONLEA was also reviewed.

It is hoped that participating countries including Myanmar will benefit a lot from the discussions held for four days on national experience and information sharing on illicit heroin trafficking and abuse electronic crimes or cyber crimes affecting drug trafficking strategy, marine drug trafficking and control of stimulants.

It is encouraging to see that delegates took part in discussions frankly and cordially sharing experiences so as to find better ways and means for practical cooperation.