To Hopeland and Back: The 23rd trip

Understanding is much deeper than trust.


My latest trip is about three things:

·         To attend the drug policy dialogue in Naypyitaw
·         To attend the meeting on Joint Coordination body (JCB) for peace funding
·         To deliver a presentation on current peace process to foreign friends

Plus a few others, which I will report as my journal proceeds.

Day One. Saturday, 5 November 2016

I loved when Bush came out and said, “We are losing the war against drugs.”

Bill Hicks (1961-1994)

American stand-up comedian, satirist and social critic
My trip coincides with the report by Lahu National Development Organization (LNDO)’s Naypyitaw’s Drug Addiction, which came out on 27 October.

The findings aren’t much different from what I had reported from 2003 (“Show Business”) to 2012 (“Show Drug Watch 2012”). The significance is that everything seems to have been changing for the worst:
·         Despite peace talks, there are reports of military buildup on both sides

·         Involvement of Tatmadaw supported People’s Milia Forces (PMFs) in the drug business
·         Increase in drug addiction among youth
·         Token drug programs that don’t appear to be working
·         Burma Army units still being paid off by farmers and investors
·         Trade off with farmers in order to win elections

The LNDO, headed by Japhet Jagui, a former PMF leader, recommends that political resolutions must come before termination of the drug problem in Burma.

Actually, it is almost the same message given by Naypyitaw’s Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC) during this year’s ceremony on 26 June marking the international day against drugs. “Drug control and peace are interrelated,” said Police Colonel Zaw Lin Tun, head of planning at the Burma Police anti-drug squad.

So the first thing I do when I leave the airport is to visit an old friend, whom I had often sought counsel more than 20 years ago. At his explicit request, his identity will be kept under wraps for the time being.

Despite being media shy, I found him forthright with his comments:

·         The standard government policy has always been blaming the rebels. But in reality it’s not like regular criminal activities. You catch the guilty person or the gang involved, and it’s over. However, drugs involve the whole society from the top to the bottom. Only by reaching a political resolution among its key stakeholders, will we be able to settle the problem. For this, the government needs to be broadminded. Talking about unity while pursuing a ‘divide-and-rule’ policy is not the way. 

·         The royal project in Thailand is a success, because there is peace and because the people trusted the king and his staff. (Here is an excerpt from Ronald D. Renaud’s Opium Reduction in Thailand, 1970-2000: A Thirty-Year journey:

The leadership of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, strong political will, national unity, together with the sound investment of the international community and the Thai government, were major factors.

Sai Naw Kham
On my way to the hotel, the driver, who is a Shan from Mongyai tells me he is a relative by marriage to the late ”druglord” Naw Kham, who was executed by Chinese authorities in 2013.

He confirms to me that Naw Kham came from a princeling family. His father Khun Zeun was a minor prince of Mongpart in the now defunct princedom of Mongyai. Married to Nang Mya Oo, they had 5 children:

·         Nang Nyunt Aye
·         Sai La Harn (deceased)
·         Sai Naw Kham (deceased)
·         Sai Oong Kya
·         Nang Kham Hawm
·         Sai Lao Fa

I hope I have time to write about him before it’s time for me to go, as the car pulls up in front of one of the hotels near the Shwe Dagon Pagoda. 


Allwebsitetools © 2014 Shan Herald Agency for News All Rights Reserved