Part II

 Those Impeding Eradication of Narcotic




I went on a visit to the now peaceful and developing


region, ( to the town of Pan San). Pan San was the central headquarters the Burma Communist Party

(BCP) before its

downfall. The Kokang faction was the first to break away from the BCP. The ‘Wa’ faction not only followed suit on 17th

April,1989 but also drove out the BCP and then formed the Myanmar National Unity Party

(Wa). At the time, U Kyauk Nyi Hlaing who

is at present an invalid was the chairman. The ‘Wa’ also set up their headquarters at Pan San. It was in the same year, on 9th May

that it officially signed the peace agreement with the Government. Pan San in those days was a small village inhabited by

‘Wa’ and

Shan nationals. But today, 10 years after achieving peace, it is a thriving town. I was interested in Pan San because it had once

been the headquarters of the BCP and therefore made a tour of the place. I even visited the exact spot where the premises of the BCP

headquarters had once stood on a mound, at a bend on the Pan San side of the of the Nan Kha creek which demarcates the boundary

with China. It had been the main headquarters of BCP chairman Ba Thein Tin and his central committee members. The buildings

are now in a state of disrepair and overrun by wild brush, and symbolic of the collapse of the

BCP. The buildings like the party

itselfhave decayed beyond repair. Descending from the high ground I arrived at the shed where weapons, ammunition and supplies had

once been stored. Now, the ‘Wa’ group uses it as a warehouse. From there, I proceeded to another hillock where the BCP had

once installed their broadcasting station. I remember their broadcasts regularly beginning with the opening phrase

‘- This is the Voice of the People.” It had then begun its vitupera-  

tive broadcasts against the Myanmar ( iovernment and the Armed Forces. I also remember that their broadcasts had laid down

guidelines for terrorist acts against the people by members oftheir above and underground cells (generally known as

UGs). Now

this building is the ‘ Wa ‘ Chairman’s Office that issues directives for reconstruction and development in the region. Just a short

distance away from the hillock is the place where students who had gone underground stayed, to be given training in sabotage

methods known as “Sabai Taw” (the Jasmine Jungle). Now ‘Mezali’ trees provide shade and the place serves as a parking lot

for construction machinery. Coming down towards town from this place, one can see from the road, the location where the BCP North

East Command headquarters once stood. It has now been replace by an imposing and spacious City Hall and a park for the people.Close to it is a fairly up-to-date sports ground. In the downtown

area one sees solid brick buildings, hotels, lodging houses and shops selling all manner of goods. It possesses all the requisites

of a town. Then to my amazement, I was told that there was once a BCP airplane factory. Only later did I understand that reference

was being made to the plant that had produced heroin with the airplane trademark. Near the small village of Pan Hpein not very

far from Pan San, the BCP had set up a heroin refinery to produce the airplane brand of heroin. Now it is a resort area. Today Pan

San has a monastery for those of the Buddhist faith, a characteristic feature of a typical Myanmar town. All it now needs is a pagoda,

but I was told that plans had already been drawn up for the building of a Cedi. So very soon Pan San will become an

attractive Myanmar border town complete with pagoda and monastery.


A partial view of the

developing town of Pan San.

Early the next morning I was startled by the soumd of a loud bang. So I inquired of central committee member U Paw Laike

Kham, my host as well as my guide, what had happened.

“What was that sound U Paw Laike Kham? Was it a mine detonating?” 

” That was a dynamite blast. They’re blasting rock for

construction of the Nant Pan Hydro-electric Power Plant.”

“It really gave me a fright. I haven’t heard a sound like

that for a long time and my ears aren’t used to it now.”

Pan Khan Cedi at Pan


” At one time a blast like that meant the loss of life either

animal or human. Now it’s for construction of either roads or a factory.”

” Is the Nant Pan Power Plant of considerable size?”

“It’s the largest of four similar plants and its productive

capacity is 7500 kilowatts. It’s being built at a cost of 3200 million kyats. You’ll see how large it is when we get to it.”

“When will it be completed?” “It is scheduled to be opened on 17th April 1999.”

Our party proceeded from Pan San to the Nant Pan

Hy- dro-electric Power Plant by car. When we reached the top of a hill

overlooking the town of Pan San, we could see in its vicinity rubber plantations with trees 4 to 5 years old. Opposite Pan San at

Mone Ah on the Chinese side of the border, the whole area was dark with rubber forests. Quite soon, the bald hills of Pan San will

be covered with dark knots of rubber trees. The road we were travelling on, though

mountainous, was in good condition. So, I commented: 

“U Paw Laike Kham, the road is surprisingly good.”

“This is one of the roads we built. There are now many

roads like this. The total is about 700 kilometers. The road from Pan Waing to Pan San which is 187 kilometers, has been laid with

gravel. We haven’t been able to do that in some areas.”

“If only the road to Tantyang were this good, one could travel from Pan San to Lashio in a day.”

The inauguration of

the Khun Mar

Hydro-electric Power Plant.

“Well, we’re doing our best.” 

“It’s totally different from when the BCP were here.”

“But we’re about 20 years behind time. Elderly


people now say that they don’t want to die just yet. When asked why, they say even now, within a short period of years they see

cars driving past and there’s now electricity and television, so they wish to see what it will be like in another 10 year’s time.”

“From what I can see, there seem to be a number of

Buddhist nonasteries in the area. So are there many Buddhists here? Didn’t the BCP prohibit religious worship?” 

“About 40% of the people in the ‘Wa’ region are Buddhists. Under the BCP of course, the situation was so bad

that some of the monasteries were preparing to flee the region. But you know we grew up with a monastic education and were

brought up as Buddhists. That’s why at a meeting of the Central Committee I raised the question whether one could be a

communist only on condition that he give up his Buddhist faith, and asked that the matter be reconsidered since Buddhism had

taken root in this area since ancient times. The communist leaders decided not to pursue the matter further but neither did

they encourage the propagation of Buddhism.” 

“Didn’t they implement development programmes for agriculture, education, health and so on? What did they do

actually to impart such general knowledge in practice? Their broadcasts at the time contained a lot of propaganda on such


“They spouted a lot of high-brow theories that were beyond the understanding of our simple national races. But when

they tried to put their theories to work it turned into a real farce. It was a failure.” 

“So tell me more about it.” 

The Bon Khan border


“Well they tried to set up a farming and agricultural

commune. But we live in a mountainous region and depend chiefly on hillside cultivation of individual plots. How could a communal

system work under such conditions? It wasn’t practicable at all. The peasants simply ran away and many villages were deserted

and left to perish. We’re neanng then plant now – the creek you see is the Nant Pan.” 

The Nant Pan Hydro-electric Power Plant was being built on the Nant Pan creek which is 30 kilometers away from Pan San.

There were about 400 labourers working day and night shifts. While we toured the work site U Paw Laike Kham told me about

the 2,000 kilowatt Yone Kyet Hydro-electric Plant and the 800 kilowatt Khway Mar Hydro-electric Plant that were also under

construction and the 640 kilowatt Nam Tip Plant which had already been completed. After having a look around we departed

in the afternoon as I had an appointment with ‘Wa’ chairman U Pauk Yo Chan. 

“Tell me U Paw Laike Kham, I hear that some BCP leaders are in the neighbouring country. Do they visit Pan San


“Not at all. It would cause them too much loss of  face.”


“They have accused us of being traitors to the party and

destroyers of the BCP. If they come and visit us they’ll see the progress that we have made and that would really put them to


The Office of

Telecommunications at Pan San.

” That day I had a friendly meeting with Chairman of

the’Wa’ National Unity Party U Pauk Yo Chan, Secretary U Shauk Myin Lyan and some of the central committee members. After

the customary courtesies, I asked U Pauk Yu Chan for his views on the current political situation in the country. He said:

“The views of our ‘Wa’ group has not changed. It ‘s still

what we declared in our announcement issued on 22nd February 1998. To be quite candid we shall follow the leadership of the

Armed Forces Government. Our sole concern and main aim is the peace and development of our region. Nothing else interests us.Of course certain political parties have made attempts to persuade

us to join them.”

“What kind of tactics did they use?”

“Let me put it this way. Attempts to lure us comes from two sources from within the country and from abroad. One

attempt was made by Hla Kyaw Zaw, expatriate daughter of ex-Brigadier General Kyaw

Zaw. She asked me to meet with the

NLD people and hold discussions. Then representatives from this party came to see me via Lashio to forge some sort of relations

and invite us for discussions. I refused them in no uncertain terms. I told them there was nothing to

discusse and also that I had no desire to meet them either.”

“Why don’t you wish to meet them?” 

“To put it briefly our region

suffered the ravages of civil war for over two decades. It’s only been a short

time since peace was obtained. And within this short period of peace look at the

difference it has made. Everyone can see that. So nobody wishes a return to insecure and unstable conditions. That’s why we are

against anything that will disrupt this peace.” 

“The United States of America has accused the

‘Wa’ group of producing heroin and they have declared that the leaders

involved are you, UPauk Yo Chan, U Li Zu and U Wai Shauk Kan.”  

“Accusing others and telling lies are things that even a child can do. It’s so easy. That’s why when some military leaders

came on a visit recently I sent word through them to our leadersnot to heed the rumours spread by the local

anti-government groups nor the allegations made by foreigners. That the best thing was to

continue doing what was necessary for the country and that we were behind them a 100 per cent. That’s my stand.”

The Pan Khan


“I’ve seen with my own eyes the crop substitution work you’re doing in your region. But these people refuse to

acknow-ledge the efforts being made.”  

“That’s what I’ve been saying all along. Our policy is to stand on our own feet and work things out with the support and

encouragement of the State. We’re doing everything within our capacity to develop roads and communications,agriculture and

livestock breeding, raise education and health standards and set up some industries by building workshops and factories for

commodity production. In Nan Tip, Mongmaw, Panwaing, Pan San Mongpauk and Monlyan regions, there are now thriving

rubber plantations, lychee and orange orchards and tea plantations. We’ve achieved a fair amount of success. As far as livestock

breeding is concerned, we’re doing this large scale, not just on an individual basis. At Mainzing near

Kyaingtong, we’ve set up a

large pig farm with the permission of the State, at a cost of  3,200.000,000

kyats. The first litter is due next month. We have

plans for another pig farm in the Tantyan region. Then there ‘s the chicken farm at

Tachilek. With regard to education, in addition to

the government schools, we’ve opened a boarding school known as the School for Development with over 3,200 pupils. And after

the hydroelectric power plants have been completed factories will follow. On the other hand we will certainly see to it that opium

cultivation is reduced.” 

“Where do you get the money for all this?”

“That’s the whole point. You see people think we get the

money from opium. Our region is rich in a variety of mineral resources. For example in Hparlin region the Government has

permitted us to begin joint mineral exploration with the Ministry of Mines. We have an ongoing timber business licenced by the 

Government. Our income has been earned legally. For some enterprises, we have invited shareholders for joint ventures.”

The premises of the


Development Youth Training School.

“U Pauk Yo Chan, you do have a systematically drawn up programme for narcotic drug eradication, don’t you?” 

“Yes, we do. We have our own ten-year programme and are ready and willing to adhere to, and implement State

sponsored prograrnmes too.” 

“So tell me, what is the situation of opium cultivation?”

“It has fallen to a certain extent, but I don’t claim that it

has been wholly eliminated. There is still a certain amount of opium cultivation. It’s a very difficult situation you know. Look

at the topography our region. We don’t have wide areas of flat land – only hilly regions and mountain ranges. Opium culti-vation

has been going on for generations even though it is known to be evil. We can’t produce rice you see. Opium is

cul t*ated not for profit but to buy rice with. It is cultivated to stave off starvation.When opium is produced, people who want to trade in it come

right up to the place of cultivation to buy it. Opium is easy to transport. It is possible to grow vegetables and other edible fruit.

But they’re not easy to convey to the villages. Who, may I ask, will make the effort to travel over such difficult terrain to buy the

produce. Just say the word and opium cultivation can be stopped in the entire ‘Wa’ region. But then who will take the responsibility

of feeding these peasants – where will they get the rice from? The most vital necessity in our region is rice.” 

“Can’t you produce rice by hill-side cultivation?” 

“The soil on the hillsides is not suitable for rice cultivation.

We have a population of about 400,000 and we cannot produce an adequate amount of rice to feed this population. To buy rice from

the productive areas in the plains we face the difficulty of transporting it. We are making efforts for self-sufficiency in our

region. We have built a dam at Panwaing capable of irrigating 1,600 acres for paddy cultivation. There’s another dam

underway at Mongpauk region. After these dams have been completed, we plan to replace the opium growing villages with

large rice growing ones. If we succeed we’ll become self sufficient in rice.” 

“U Pauk Yo Chan, from whom will you get assistance for the project?”

“We’re not looking for assistance from anywhere. The

State has enough on its hands with expenses incurred for the many development projects it is implementing countrywide. So we don’t

want to place an extra burden. That is why we’re trying to stand on ow own feet and trying to realize our goals in stages.”

“I think you’re doing your utmost and the Americans and

western countries making wild accusations against you should know about your efforts.” 

“I’m sure they know, how could they not?” There are IJNDCP programmes in progress in our region, so Westerners

come here often. They know very well that we’re trying to make crop substitution work and that at the same time we’re taking

severe action against the narcotic drug trade and have made seizures. But whatever and however much they may know, they

will insist on putting the blame on our country. We know very well why they’re trying to make our country the scapegoat.”

“By the way, I know you’re planning a grand celebration

to commemorate the tenth anniversary of peace.” 

“Let’s say a  sigluficant, rather than a grand ceremony of

the peace that we have achieved. Previously, our celebrations were in the form of a military parade or a politically orientated

celebration complete with appropriate slogans. This time around there will be none of that.” 

“Why? What’s the reason?” 

“As I said, it’s a ceremony to show how much we value and appreciate our hard-earned peace. And we wish to show the

progress we have made in the ten-year period, how  different conditions are now in comparison to the time under the

BCP. Let

the people see clearly the benefits of peace, so that they will come to realize that it is worth protecting and preserving; that it is not

something to be treated carelessly and destroyed.” 

“When are you holding the


“On 17th  April 1999. You’re invited, so please come.” 

“I’ll do my best to be present.” After this conversation, we returned to our accommodations after bidding good bye as we had to make an early

start in the morning for our return trip home. We travelled from Pan San to Kyaingtong by car along the gravel road from Pan

San, Mongpauk and Monhpyan that the ‘Wa’ group had built. The road was lined with rubber plantations and at Mongphyan

there was a lychee orchard.

Dear reader, it will now be obvious to you, the tremendous efforts that have been made by the

‘Wa’ leaders to

eradicate narcotic drugs from their region with all means within their reach. Yet the Americans and western bloc nations have

made accusations that their region is the largest cultivator of opium and that it produces the largest amount of narcotic drugs. As U

Pauk Yu Chan said they are making these charges not because they are ignorant of the efforts being made by the

‘Wa’ to

eliminate drugs, but as a deliberate smear campaign. What is the  real reason behind it and whom does it benefit? I am sure the answer is

already obvious to the reader. As far as the ‘Wa’ leaders are concerned, no matter what others may say, they will continue with their work with

determination and diligence to transform the ‘Wa’ Region into an ‘Opium  Free Zone’. This, I believe in absolutely, for I have seen with my own 

eyes, what they have done and are still doing.