Author's Preface


I wrote a series of articles under the title "Why Did U Khun Sa's MTA Group Decide to Exchange Arms for Peace?" in the daily newspapers and followed them up with a sequel, "Why Did Foreigners Visit the MTA Headquarters?" Friends and colleagues after reading these articles suggested that I should publish the entire collection in book form together with photographic records. "Why Arms were exchanged for Peace", being a series of newspaper articles does not constitute, therefore, a full or complete record of events or facts. But I can fully vouch for the veracity of the facts mentioned in the articles.

In my articles I was not able to give the historical background of the MTA except for a few essential facts. But I believe that knowledge of its history in brief is necessary, as it would give clarity to subsequent events.

The embryo group that would emerge one day as the full-fledged Mong Tai Army had its beginnings as a small local self - defence militia force in Lwemaw village in the Tanyang region. In 1960 the military authorities in the region assigned U Khun Sa as head of a local defence group with a strength of about 40 men for the purposes of suppressing insurgent activities in the Tanyang region and for protecting the local populace. This local defence militia of U Khun Sa, in their counter attacks to quell the insurgents had been of considerable assistance to the government's military forces. But in 1964, when K100 and K50 currency notes were declared illegal tender and private enterprises were nationalized by the Government, the Lwemaw defence group headed by U Khun Sa went underground with a force of about 350 men at the Myanma-Thai border. In 1966, he made contact with the Government Forces in the area and helped to attack and repel the remnant KMT Forces in the Golden Triangle region. In 1964, U Khun Sa and his followers were allowed to resettle in the Tanyang region and function as Anti-insurgent Group No.11. But in 1969, because this Lwemaw group had violated existing laws it was ordered to surrender their weapons. When the group failed to comply with this order U Khun Sa was placed under arrest. While U Khun Sa was thus under detention, his second-in-command U Kyan Su Shin leading a force of about 1600 members of the Lwemaw group went underground for the second time. This underground group kidnapped two Russian doctors working at the Taunggyi Sao Hsam Tun Hospital and held them in ransom for U Khun Sa's release. The government naturally refused to give in to such blackmail. In 1974 U Khun Sa was freed together with many others under the terms of the General Amnesty proclaimed by the Government. But he again went underground in 1976 after reassuming leadership of his Lwemaw group. He then reorganized this group as the Shan United Army (SUA). The SUA, in 1984, then attacked and captured the encampment of remnant KMT troops in the San Kalan region, the Pa-O (White) insurgent camps in the vicinity of Mae-Aw as well as armed camps of the Wa National Army. By 1985, he had merged his group with the Shan United Revolutionary Army, (SURA), led by Moe Hein. They then formed the United Shan State Patriotic Council (USSPC) and the United Tai Liberation Army (UTLA). They had renamed the new combined group, the Shan State Army (SSA), but because this group might be confused with the  SSA of Sai Lek(Kala), it was again renamed, the Mong Tai Army (MTA). In 1990, another group encamped on the Thai border headed by one Naw Mein Gyi, and which also called itself the SSA, decided to join the MTA. This new alliance then
formed what was called the Tseng Tai United Committee. Meanwhile in 1989, some factions of the WNA which had continuously been fighting the MTA, broke away from its group to join the MTA. The remaining factions chose to stay on in the Lwe Lan region and the MTA carried on its fight with these factions. The fighting went on sporadically up to the time the 'Wa' group was about to reach a peace accord with the government. In 1992 the USSPC was dissolved and a new group, the Shan People's Representative Committee (SPRC) was formed in its place. In 1989, the SSA headed by U Hsai Htin reached a peace agreement with the Government but the faction led by the President Sai Laik (Kala) declined the peace offer and remained underground in the Northern Shan State. In 1994/95, the group that had chosen to remain with Sai Laik went to Ho Mong to join the MTA. The MTA then started to attack the SSA forces that had made peace. On 14* December 1993, members of the MTA, village representatives and people from the villages in the area held a mass rally at the Ho Mong headquarters of the MTA. The rally passed resolutions declaring the Shan State an independent sovereign state. Then it announced the formation of a 35-member Shan State Parliament and appointed U Khun Sa as president. The Shan State Restoration Council was subsequently reconstituted. This is a brief review which covers events from the formation of the small Lwemaw Defence militia that ultimately led to the emergence of the full-grown MTA, right up to the time before its capitulation to the government to exchange arms for peace.

In my newspaper articles I made only passing reference to the fact that the United States of America had asked for the extradition of U Khun Sa, but did not elaborate on it, because I did not think it was necessary at the time. But reports say that the U.S. Embassy in Yangon had requested the extradition of U Khun Sa to be tried in a U.S. Court of Law, once in 1991 and again in 1996. The embassy had reportedly made the request in writing to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and again by a representative of the embassy in person. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs turned down the request because no extradition treaty exists between the Union of Myanmar and the United States. The request was deemed not justified according to international law. This fact was not mentioned in my newspaper articles. But this publication of ny articles in book form has now enabled me to include photographs to show the latest situation of the MTA Headquarters at Ho Mong just before its surrender to the Government.

In this book, I wish to focus on the reasons that led the MTA to exchange arms for peace, so I shall not be able to go into to  much detail to other side issues concerning it. My main goal is to make explicitly clear to the reader the following essential facts: Why the MTA finally decided to exchange arms for peace.

To indicate clearly that the MTA's role in the peace process initiated by the Government was indeed not a negligible or small factor.

- And that, that peace had not been easily achieved.

- To bring to light the main culprits and the actual beneficiaries of the illegal narcotic drug trade.

I wish also to make it patently clear that the western bloc nations, while vociferously and hypocritically calling for the eradication of narcotic drugs are in actual fact playing a double game to politicize the issue to suit their own ulterior motives. On the positive side, I wish to make evident to the reader, the arduous efforts being made by the Myanmar Government to combat the drug menace within its own limited resources and how wholeheartedly the former armed ethnic groups are cooperating in this national endeavour.

It is fervently hoped that my presentations will leave a written record of the colossal efforts made by the Myanmar Military Government to establish peace. It would also be a record of the role played by the MTA in the government's narcotic drug eradication programme. However, may I say from the outset that my articles are by no means a full and complete account of the important issues, but are simply the observations and analysis of an individual, of the facts within his reach. Thus, inadvertently, I may have failed to mention specific information regarding the achievements of certain organizations as well as certain individuals in the drug eradication programme. For this, I duly take full responsibility and request the indulgence and forgiveness of all those concerned.

In closing I would like to record my sincere thanks to U Sein Win, veteran journalist and "Patron of the Foreign Correspondent's Club, Union of Myanmar" for doing me the honour of writing the Foreword to my book which is a commendation that I greatly value.

My thanks also go to Daw Kyi Kyi Hla, Professor (Emeritus) of Philosophy for her rendition into English of the colloquial Myanmar dialogue that I chose as the medium of my presentation.

      Maung Hpo Shoke