Those lmpeding Eradication of
 Narcotic Drugs

Part III

The author and party made our way by car from Pan San to Mongyang to visit Hsilu of Special ReglonNo .4. After meeting with responsible personnel of Special Region 4 we proceeded to Mong La. The Hsilu / Mong La journey was not rough at all because the road was a paved road: On the way we saw the Hydroelectric Power Plant of Special Region 4. It had been completed quite recently and had yet to be put into commission. Being here brought to mind the background history of this region that had now become Special Region No.4. I believe almost everyone will recall that the overseas Burma Communist Party headed by Ba Thein Tin began to enter the Kokang and 'Wa' regions at the beginning of January 1968. They entered and occupied the region as the Northeast Military Command. In 1969 they mobilized the armed national groups that  had originally operated in East Kyaingtong and reorganized them under No: 815 Military Region to carry on with armed activities. In 1976 the units of the Shan Shate Independent Army joined the BCP. At first they were absorbed as part of the No: 815 Military Regional Command but later in August 1976 they were reconstituted as Brigade No: 768 Brigade operated in Mong La and Hsi Lu in the east Kyaingtong Region. In March 1989 however, the Kokang faction broke away from the BCP to be followed by the 'Wa' faction on 17 April. That left only the original forces of Brigade No: 768 and Military Region No: 815. On 19 April Commander of Military Region 815 U Sai Lin detained the District Commander of Mong La and announced the break away of his regional military command from the BCP. Not long afterwards, Brigade No: 768 composed largely of Shan nationals joined the forces of Regional Command No: 815. These two forces then formed a new organization, The National Democratic Alliance, East Shan State Military and Admini-strative Committee, Shan / Akhar. U Sai Lin headed this new alliance as Chairman and U Kyi Myint as Secretary. The groups that had formed this umbrella organization also wished to make peace like the Kokang and Wa groups. So they enlisted the help of U Saw Sitt Thin and party to hold discussions with representatives ofthe Armed Forces. They reached a peace agreement with the Government on 30 June 1989. When I arrived at Mong La I saw that many more changes had taken place since the last time I was there for the inauguration of the Khaymar Wara Bridge. Lightening Changes seem to take place in Mong La because when one sees it again after an interval of 4 to 6 months, the landscape has again taken on a new look. When we arrived at Mong La Hotel U Kyi Myint and party was on hand to greet us. I said to U Kyi Myint when greetings were over: 

"U Kyi Myint, I saw a hydroelectric power station on my way here. When was it completed?"

The Opium Free Zone Museum of Special Region (4).

The Mong La Hotel.

"I think you mean the Nant Man Hydroelectric Power Station.
"It was completed not long ago. It hasn't been off1cially opened yet"

"How many kilowatts does it produce and how  much did it cost?"

"It cost over 1600 hundred thousand and kyats and has a capacity of 800 kilowatts. When funds  permit and we install another turbine it will be capable of producing 3000 kilowatts." 

"I must say, it's fairly large. Yon already have three other hydroelectric power stations, don't you ".

"Yes, sure. We have the Nant Lan Power Station that produces 400 kilowatts, the His Lu Station that produces 380 kilowatts, and the Nant Pan Station on the Mong Yaung / Mong Yu side with a capacity of 300 kilowatts for Mong La".

"So you have an abundant supply of electricity."

"Well. I know you've just arrived, but Chairman U Sai Lin is waiting for you. So shall we go and greet him."

"We left Mong La Hotel and headed for U Sai Lin's residence. We saw many tourists as well as motor cars from China on the road. "
"U Kyi Myint, there seem to be a lot of Chinese tourists." 

"We have more tourists now because the rainy season has almost ended . There are fewer tourists during the rains." " Approximately, how many tourists do you get annually?"

"In 1996 the number was over 401 thousand. In 1997 it was over four hundred and thirty thousand. I don't think it will be less than that this year."

The Mong La "Dwe Nagara" Pagoda.

The Mong La Peace Pagoda.

 "How much is the entry fee U Kyi Myint?" 

"Its of yuan ( about 280 kyats) per head. We charge 5 yuan (about 200 kyats) for a small car and 10 yuan (about 400 kyats) for a large truck or bus. "

"Ha ! your annual income must be considerable. "

"This income in paying for our development. projects. Well, here we are. U Sain Lin waiting outside to welcome you. "

"Together with U Sai Lin were old friends U Chet Vwee, Ko Nway Oo and Ko Win Aung who warmly welcomed us. We were served delicious food in the living room accompanied by interesting conversation. "

"U Sai Lin, your Mong La is Like Yangon. The scene changes after an absence of about S to 6 months."

"I think you'e referring to the new bridge across the creek and the buildings on the opposite bank."

"Yes. There was nothing there when I came for the opening ceremony of the " Khaymar Wara" Bridge. By the way, I read the declaration of your organizations that clearly spelled out your political stance. But I want to know more about your views on the current political situation. "

"Do you need to ask? The views of our Special Region 4 are identical with those of the Military Government.- We reject any move that will disrupt or obstruct peace and stability. That is our position. "

"I suppose U Sai Lin, you are aware ofthe ruses employed by the NLD to convene parliament." 

"Of course. Some person even sent us the announcements and pamphlets issued by this party. A certain person from another organization who was wavering a bit came by to see me and sound me out and sort of enlist my support. I told him quite bluntly and firmly that the Military Government had my support a hundred per cent and that there was no way I would endorse any opposition movement that would jeopardize peace and destabilize the country. "

"In this year's statement on the narcotic drug situation in Myanmar issued by the U.S. State Department, charges were made that national groups who had made peace with the Government were still involved in the narcotic drug trade. Their list of those involved included U Pauk Yo Chan, Li Zi Yu and Wai Shauk Kan of the 'Wa' group; U Hpone Kyar Shin and Liu Kwai Chi of the Kokang; U Mone Hsar Lar of the MND; U Ma Htu Naw of the KDA; U Sai Lin of Special Region 4 and Ywet Hsit of the SURA. They also say that although the Mong La region had been declared an Opium Free Zone, the narcotic drug trade in the region was very much alive. "

"I think everyone knows the tremendous efforts that we have  made for the elimination of narcotic drugs. These are just trumped up charges that are politically motivated. Just ask U Kyi Myint for the  details. He'll give you a full account of our efforts. For now I think you need to rest after your tiring journey."

After making our farewells to U Sai Lin we returned to the  hotel. U Kyi Myint hosted dinner for us that evening and we continued our discussions on narcotic drugs.

"Well U Kyi Myint, let's continue our discussions on the  American allegations on narcotic drugs that we touched upon at U Sai Lin's place. "

"The Americans and the western bloc are really impossible.  They simply refuse to acknowledge the attempts we have made and are making to eradicate narcotic drugs. They have nothing good to say.  What they're doing is like deliberately pushing down someone who's trying to struggle up the side of a steep precipice to get to safety instead of stretching out a hand to help."

"Do carry on U Kyi Myint. "

"It's like this you see. We try to establish an opium free zone and are doing our utmost to get rid of narcotic drugs from our region. But instead of helping us, all they do is heap all the blame on us. So it's like they're trying to push us back towards the narcotic trade, isn't it? Our people are beginning to say that it's insufferable being accused  unfairly like this and that it would at least be tolerable if we had really  become involved again in narcotic drugs. Our young people resent it  very much and you can't blame them. You have seen for yourself how we had to struggle against all odds to be able to set up this Opium Free Zone."

The Khaymarwady Bridge on the
Kyaingtong-Mong La highway.

"I only know the bare facts really so would you give me the details. "

"Before we reached the peace agreement with the Government  there were 262 villages growing 2,700 acres of opium poppy annually and it was estimated that it produced over 9800 kilos of opium approximately. And there were over 2,100 addicts in the region. Since we're in the Golden Triangle region it was also a centre of the drug  trade. "

"If I remember correctly, you started on anti-narcotic drug  action in cooperation with the Government as soon as you had signed the peace agreement didn't you? "

''Definitely. In 1991 we destroyed cultivated poppy fields and  burned down refineries, heroin, yellow and brown opium and precursor  chemicals working together with the military authorities. The total value of all that was destroyed, amounted to about 1,500 thousand dollars at the time. "

"And didn't you begin on your six-year project for an Opium  Free Zone in 1992? "

"It doesn't do justice to our project just to mention the Opium Free Zone. Our goal was much more comprehensive than that. It covered total elimination of production, trafficking and abuse of drugs. We carried out the project from 1992 to 1997 in 6 years, in 3 two-year phases."

"Can you explain how you actually carried this out. "

"Interdiction alone was not enough to realize our objectives. We had to educate the public on the evils of opium  cultivation. We had to send our members to the villages to hold meetings and discussions  with the villagers. We also had to provide crop substitution, open up clinics to cure addicts, carry out regional development by improving roads and communications, and create jobs to alleviate unemployment. "

"I hear that your interdiction measures are very tough and strict. I am told even your chairman's car is not exempt from search at the various checkpoints. "

"That's right. Within those six years we were able to seize 10.8 kilograms of heroin, 60.1 kilograms of raw opium and arrest and take action against 56 offenders. "

The Mong La Sugar Factory under construction.

"What arrangements have you made for the addicts? "

"There are three clinics at Pan Homong, Hsi Lu and Nant Pan  villages. The clinics are still open and functioning. Over 400 addicts have been cured during these 6 years. "

"What about cultivation? "

"If we talk about cultivation we'll first have to say something about the dams and irrigation canals that we have built with the financial assistance of the Government partly supplemented with our own funds.  The first thing we did as soon as peace was reached was to start construction of dams and canals for agriculture . For instance, the Won  Tong dam which irrigates over 600 acres of land; the Nant Haint Nant Ha dam that irrigates over 500 acres; the Mong Nam dam that supplies  water for over 400 acres and the Nant Sam dam that irrigates over 170 acres. The Won Pone dam has been completed but land is still being reclaimed for cultivation. Then there is the Nant Mar canal that now  irrigates over 45 acres of reclaimed land. There is also the Kyin Ye Dam still under construction plus numerous irrigation ditches and small weirs. In the Hsi Lu area there are altogether 7 of them. Up till now, the acreage under paddy cultivation is nearly 2,000. Sugar cane grown exceeds 2,100 acres and about 500 acres have been planted with rubber trees. We plan to grow sugar cane on four to five thousand acres in the future. After the paddy has been harvested each year we grow water-melon; cardamom, castor and tea. These are all substitution crops. "

"From where do you get your agro-technology and other forms  of assistance?"

"We get assistance from the Government and from neighbouring China. Responsible officials of Xixxaobana District give us some technical assistance and we are able to purchase the necessary seeds from them."

"What about road communications?"

"Roads are vital for regional development. There is a Chinese proverb with the exhortation ' Build roads if you wish to amass wealth'. We have already constructed 101.4 kilometers highway, 112 kilometers of minor roads, 641 kilometers of village roads, 4 large bridges and 18 srnaller ones. We plan to make the 89.4 kilometer Kyaingtong - Mong La road, one that meets the highest specifications. The Government has already given approval for a loan. Soon it will be one of the best asphalt

"I wish to know about the education and health sector too."

The Hydro-electric Power Plant in Hsi Lu region.

"In our region there is a total of 30 schools, both elementary and middle schools. There are 4 privately funded schools and 1 established with UN aid which makes a total of 37 schools. There are 3 hospitals and 5 clinics for health care."

"What about factories and work shops? Are there quite a number of them now."

"There's one sugar mill with a daily milling capacity of 700 tons of sugar cane. Then the smaller factories include a cigarette factory, a sewing workshop and a soap factory. We also have a rock grinding plant, a water cleansing plant, a brick kiln and a concrete pipe factory. We have every intention of expanding industry gradually."

"I see that your region also nurtures religious faith."

"Oh yes! We encourage freedom of worship. But because most people in the region are Buddhists there are now 6 Cedis. We invite the learned abbots from Kyaingtong and Mong Hpone for public meritorious donations and to preach sermons. We have been able to eliminate drug from our region because we make approaches from all directions to help resolve the problem. That's the reason for our success."

"In spite of all these endeavours, there are still people of ill-will spreading falsehood."

"We have issued a declaration to all individuals and organizations that are making these false allegations that with the permission of the Government they can come to any part of our region at any time they choose to inspect and seek out any shred of evidence they can. Yet, knowing all this, the Americans and the western bloc will persist in making these accusations. The main reason is because they have no genuine desire to eradicate narcotic drugs, since they wish to politicize the issue to suit their own ulterior motives."

"So, U Kyi Myint how do you feel about it?"

"Since the accusations are so unfair, we resent it very much. At the same time we pity the American people."

"Oh! Why? "

"If you think about the matter seriously, these people, instead of giving their whole-hearted cooperation and assistance to rid the source of narcotic drugs are instead hampering and impeding us. It's like trying to burn the tail of another but also
getting their own tails burned in the process."

U Kyi Myint's graphic and explicit example produced a roar of laughter towards the end of the dinner. What he said was the actual truth. The actions of the Americans and the western bloc have boomeranged. It should pay heed to the fact that in the final analysis it is their own people that they are hurting irretrievably.