STATEMENT BY POLICE MAJOR GENERAL SOE WIN
SECRETARY OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE FOR DRUG ABUSE CONTROL,
AT THE FOURTEENTH DESTRUCTION OF SEIZED NARCOTIC DRUGS
Your Excellency, The Secretary(l) of the State Peace and Development Council,
Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt,
The Chairman and Vice-Chairmen of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control,
Heads of Department,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
The Military Attaches,
The Press Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, I wisl1 to express my
sincere talks to all distinguished guests for giving time to be present here at the
Fourteenth Destruction of Seized Narcotic Drugs.
At the outset, I have the pleasure to h1form you that today’s drug burning occasion is
significant compared to the previous 13 times whicl1 were held usually in February or March
am1ually. This year it is held in honour of and to welcome the International Day against Drug
Abuse and Illicit Trafficking which falls on the 26 June.
The presentation today will be made in two parts. On the first part, I shall update you
on Myanmar’s endeavours in eradicating the narcotic drugs problem.
The second part will be by Police Brigadier General Maung Maung Than, Head of the
Criminal Investigation Department and Member of the Law Enforcement Committee, who will
apprise you of the narcotic drugs to be destroyed today.
On several occasions, we have explained how opium arrived to this country and who
initiated refining opium into heroin and therefore I shall refrain from dwelling on this and
confine myself to present to you Myanmar’s efforts to be rid of this problem and the
achievement made thus far.
Since regaining Myanmar’s independence, successive governments have striven for
the eradication of narcotic drug laws and byelaws were enacted and observed. However much
drug seizures, destruction of poppy fields, treatment and rehabilitation activities were carried
out and continuously stepped up, effectiveness and success seem to have eluded us.
In analyzing this elusive situation, one would find the weakness in the Laws enacted
then and shortcomings in the government departments that observed them. Furthermore, one of
the mah1 reasons for this ineffectiveness was due to the insurgency problem resulting in
The principal areas that cultivate opium poppy and produce heroin are in the eastern
and northeastern part of the country where access is difficult. Furthermore, they share
thousands of miles of common borders with China and Thailand. Since regaining independence
and until 1989, these areas had been under the domination of armed insurgent groups thereby
making it impossible to tackle the illicit drug problem at its source. The insurgent groups to
build up their funds and replenish their arms and ammunition by engaging in trafficking and
sale of illicit drugs seized this opportunity. These factors contribute to the increasing problem
of illicit drugs.
Myanmar received a fair share of assistance from the international organizations in
the fight against narcotic drugs during those days. Financial assistance was received from the
UNFDAC in agriculture, livestock breeding, education, health, rehabilitation and law
enforcement sectors and also from the United States in destruction of poppy fields. However,
assistance from the international community, including that of the United States ceased from
Not only did the United States and European countries stop all assistance to Myanmar,
but also began to level various kinds of accusations against this country; -that illicit drugs
production have been stepped up; -that instead of taking effective law enforcement measures
the country is turning a blind eye; -that cooperative efforts are not to expected level. I hope that
I can clear these accusations and criticism with my presentation today.
Since assuming State responsibilities in 1988, the government stepped up anti-drug
campaigns year after year, tackling the problem in all its facets, employing a multi-sectoral
approach. In so doing, it is co-operating not only with its neighbours but also with the
international organizations and the international community. Drug eradication activities in
Myanmar are regarded not only as a national duty, but also as a national commitment. The
Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control and its sub-committees that were established in
1975, have been reorganized and reinforced with a view to effective and expeditious
implementation of the task at hand.
Furthermore, a Strategy for the eradication of narcotic drugs, as well as the three
Tactics namely, Supply elimination, Demand elimination and Law enforcement were laid down
together with work programmes for speedy response and balanced approach. The most
important task at hand is for the government to be in control of the poppy cultivating areas in
the fight against drugs. Not only have the government been able to root out the insurgents but
also been able to conclude peace agreements with the armed groups, enabling to work together
for the eradication of illicit drugs in the poppy cultivation and drug produing areas.
I should like to inform the distinguished guests and the international community at
this stage, that Myanmar have been combating the scourge of illicit drugs with her own
resources without the assistance of the international community. It is disheartening to note that
assistance is still not forthcoming when we are at an opportune moment to be rid of this
problem. Successful eradication therefore, will still be at a slow pace than expected.
We believe that enforcement measures alone will not solve the problem but will only
lead to sufferings of the poor farmers. To achieve long term sustainable poppy free border
regions, the government realized the need of special programmes for the local inhabitants and
In this context, a Ministry for the Progress of Border Areas and National Races and
Development Affairs was established for the development of border areas and to
implement alternative income generation, agriculture and livestock breeding programmes for the poppy
farmers. Poppy cultivating areas at one time that are now rapidly developing, are testimonies to
this endeavour. For this major undertaking, the government has spent over 18 billion kyats to
date in carrying out work programmes for the development of the border areas and
national races beginning 1989.
In addition to these, in co-operation with the UNDCP, the
government is implementh1g Alternative Development Projects and Illicit Crop
Monitoring Programmes in the poppy cultivation areas, as well as buckwheat cultivation and other
alternative crops as crop substitution, with the assistance of Japan and China respectively. Karamosia International, a
Japanese NGO is also starting work for socio-economic development of the “Wa” region.
I can proudly say that due to these efforts, cultivation and production of
Opium have gradually decreased from 151200.006 acres in 1997/98 to 102066.766 acres
in 1998/99 and only 90437.61 acres in 1999/2000. From that, 44479.352 acres in 1997/98, 9824.667 acres in
1998/99 and 10970.272 acres in 1999/2000 were manually destroyed.
It may be mentioned here that the estimates projected by the United States on opium
poppy cultivation in Myanmar are slightly higher than what we are able to survey. Nevertheless,
their report also mentions the same trend and records a decrease of 31 % in cultivation and 38%
decrease in production last year. No one can deny that such a decrease is due to the efforts of our
government. Similarly, it has been stated in the 1999 Report of the International Narcotics
Control Board that opium production has declined in Myanmar.
In parallel with reduction efforts in the supply sector, continuous measures are also
being carried out to reduce demand for illicit drugs. In dissemination of knowledge on the ill
effects of drug abuse, not only are the government departments engaged in these activities,
collaborative efforts are also being carried out with local NGOS and international organizations
through electronic and printing media to reach out to the populace.
Educative talks, exhibitions and contests are conducted as well as included in the
school curricula on drug abuse to reach out to the school children. In this regard, I have the
pleasure to announce that the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control is going to stage a
National Exhibition on Narcotic Drugs Education to the general public on 26 June coming
Monday at the Envoy Hall on U Wizaya Road.
A baseline survey conducted in 1998-99 indicate over 80,000 drug users in the
country, which may be the closest we may be able to compile, even if it may not be the precise
figure. Preparations have been made for drug users to register and receive treatment not only at
special treatment centres but also at general hospitals. Moreover, treatment
may also be
received at the Shwe Pyi Thar and Shwe Pyi Aye Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation
Centres in I Bago Division and Southern Shan State respectively, which are
administered by CCDAC.
In addition to the two treatment and rehabilitation centres directly under CCDAC,
Department of Social Welfare has established six centres to rehabilitate drug addicts.
The CCDAC is also providing assistance to the local ethnic leaders’ own programmes hl treaullel1t
of drug addicts. Myanmar is also actively implementing Drug Demand Reduction Projects in
collaborationl with UNDCP undel the Subregional Action Plan of the MOU 6
coutries. l can firmly say that the increase in number of drug addicts can definitely be put to a stop due to these
efforts hl reduction of demand for drugs.
To continue with the Law Enforcement Sector, although Myanmar was able to reduce
illicit opium cultivation and production, we have found that the emerging threat of
stimulants is an alarming trend hl the country. Although neighbouring countries in the subregion were
already facing this problem for the past decade, Myanmar had been spared from the problem
until 1996. While illicit production and trafficking of amphetamine type stimulants by
unscrupulous drug traffickers have now emerged at the borders of Myanmar, abuse of these
stimulants is not widespread as yet hl the country. Measures have been taken to
contain the spread of stimulant abuse in the country by all departments
Here, I can firmly say that essential chemical precursors for
production of stimulants like ephedrine and psuedo-ephedrine are not produced hl Myanmar.
Since 1997 frequent seizures of ephedrine and precursor chemicals have been made which were illegally trafficked
h1to Myanmar from Thailand, China and India.
Since ephedrine and some precursors were unknown to enforcement agencies and
field officers before 1997, we do not know how much has slipped away from right under our
noses. Only after receiving training and field test kits from the UNDCP Precursor Control
Project of the Subregional Action Plan, were we able to identify ephedrine and begin to seize it.
In this connection, we also wish to express our gratitude to the National Police Agency of Japan,
the Australian Federal Police and the Drug Enforcement Admhlistration for their assistance and
collaboratioll towards this end.
Beginning 1997, seizures of opium and heroin declined significantly in Myanmar, and
so also is the same hl neighbouring Thailand and Chilla. Annual seizures of stimulants and
ephedrine have however, been found to be on the increase. In 1999, 28.8 million tablets of ATS
and over 6200 kilos of ephedrine, as well as 3 tabulatng machines were seized. Stimulant
seizures made hl Myanmar are mainly on trafficking routes along the borders and rarely hl big
cities like Yangon and Mandalay. It may be assessed from this that demand for stimulants in the
neighbouring countries are on the rise. It may be also concluded those foreign drug syndicates
in collaboration carry out illicit production of stimulants hl Myanmar with local
based in the highly porous border areas.
Although Myanmar is criticized for illicit production of drugs, the media and
criticizing countries should also bear in mind that drugs can not be refined without chemicals.
In other words;- no precursors, 120 drugs. In 1999, over 60,000 litres of precursor chemicals
were seized. Since Myamnar does not manufacture chemicals, all these chemicals were
smuggled into the country through our neighbours and one can imagine how much may have
been smuggled in undetected. We are also well aware of the fact that our neighbours are doing
their best to prevent diversion of chemicals to illicit use. However, all means are employed to
smuggle them into Myanmar. I should therefore like to emphasize once again the urgency in
effective control of chemicals.
After having assumed the State responsibilities hl 1988, the Government
promulgated in 1993 the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law, which is
in conformity with the 1988 UN Convention on illicit Trafficking. This Law prescribes stiff penalties against drug
offenders. After this Law was promulgated, 14 death sentences, 84 sentences for unlimited
number of years, 35 life sentences and 7 above twenty years sentences have been passed.
On the other hand, Myanmar has been actively co-operating not only with countries in
the region but also with the international community. Opium yield surveys has been conducted
six times with the United States government from 1993 to year 2000.
Moreover, we are also participating in the Illicit Crop Monitoring Programme (ICPM)
with UNDCP to crosscheck and verify satellite imagery with on-ground survey of opium poppy
cultivation. These activities clearly show that Myanmar is continuously co-operating with other
countries and organizations in combating the scourge of illicit drugs.
In so doing, Myanmar has also concluded bilateral agreements with countries hl the
ASEAN region, with neighbours, with countries in the sub-region, and also with countries
outside the region. Myanmar hosted the Fourth Heroin Conference and, likewise, has proposed
to host the forthcoming HONLEA meeting towards the end of the year. Yet still, the United
States is exerting pressure on us by accusing Myanmar’s actions as not satisfactory and refrain
from providing assistance. The international media likewise, turns a blind eye to our efforts and
still continues a campaign of negative comments.
Whatever kinds of accusations may come from whichever quarters, we will carry on
with our own efforts and our own resources for the total eradication of narcotic drugs. Because
of the initiatives of leaders of the national races, Monglar Region of the Eastern Shan State has
now been declared an ‘Opium Free Zone’ since 1997. Likewise, other leaders have also
committed themselves to be able to declare their own regions Opium Free in the near future. As
the leaders of national races are striving for their regions to be free of narcotic drugs, so also is
the government sparing no efforts to eradicate the illicit drug problem by laying down and
implementing a Fifteen Year Plan for the total elimination of narcotic drugs.
The Government of Myanmar has begun implementation of the Fifteen-Year Narcotic
Drugs Elimination plan starting from 1999/2000. This plan will target 51 drug cultivating and
producing townsl1ips and will cover a broad spectrum of supply elimination, demand
elimination, law enforcement community participation and international Cupertino activities.
The plan has an estimated budget of Kyats 33,588.14 million and US$ 150 million. Should the
international community and organizations be in a position to assist implementation of the plan,
we believe the objectives will be achieved within the designated time frame.
What I have presented to you are Myanmar’s position towards illicit drugs and its
endeavours to eliminate this problem. At this juncture, al low me to quote His Excellency Senior
General Than Shwe Prime Minister of Myanmar, when he delivered a statement on the
occasion of the 51st Anniversary of the Armed Forces Day on March 27, 1996.
Quote– .. ‘ Combating narcotic drugs is an enormous difficult formidable
task since it is the concern of all peoples of the world. We will welcome
assistance from all quarters if given with genuine and sincere goodwill. Even if
assistance is not forthcoming we will carry on with our own means to eradicate
the scourge of narcotic drugs, which is endangering the people of the
In carryh1g out the planned activities under the Fifteen-Year Plan, we will not be
looking towards, and hoping for intenzational assistance, but rather rely on our own resources
and determination as His Excellency Senior General Than Shwe pointed out.
The narcotic drugs that will be destroyed before you today are but a fraction of our
efforts. Police Brig. Gen. Maung Maung Than will submit to you the amount of drugs that will
be destroyed which you will witness for yourself momentarily. I should also like to invite you to
observe the exhibits on some of our activities that are displayed in this hall.
To sum up my presentation this morning, I would like to reiterate that the Myanmar
Government is sparing no efforts in eliminating narcotic drugs in accordance with our own
aspiration. It is tackling the problem in all its facets employing a multi sectoral approach. It has
also reached peace agreements with armed ethnic groups in this endeavour and tangible results
have been achieved. Whatever kinds of accusations may come from whichever quarters we will
continue with our chosen path to eliminate the scourge of illicit drugs.
I wish to conclude by sincerely thanking the senior members of the State, members of
the diplomatic corps, the military attaché corps, and specially invited guests who have found
time to fit into their busy schedules to grace us with their presence at this significant occasion
I thank you.