To Hopeland and Back: The 23rd trip

Day Three. Monday , 7 November 2016

A drug is not bad. A drug is a chemical compound.
The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole.
Frank Zapap (1940-1993)

American musician, songwriter, composer, guitarist, and others

Tom Kramer (Photo:
Today is the day made for learning. Which is all right with me, because I know there’s a lot I need to catch up.

 The opening speech for the 8th Asia Informal Drug Policy Dialogue by Police Brigadier General Myint Htoo, Joint Secretary of CCDAC. The following are the excerpts:

·         Efforts to address the world drug problem have not produced the expected results
·         (There are) links between drug and conflict for efforts to bring peace and reconciliation to our country
·         The UNGASS (UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs which was held last April in New York) outcome document must be applied as policy framework for member states to develop national drug policies

Secretary-General Visits UNODC Project in Shan State,
 Myanmar Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets 
local villagers in Kyauk Ka Char, Shan State, Myanmar, 
where he visited the Government and 
UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) co-sponsored
 "Drug Alternative Development Project" being implemented
 in the area. Kyauk Ka Char, Myanmar (Photo: UNODC)
The other opening speeches by Tom Kramer, who imposes a strict Chattham House Rule, and Ms Katrin Buder from Germany’s GIZ, are not long. So before we know what’s what, we are treated to an early coffee break.

One of the police officers sitting across the table, in reply to a question, says outright the UN alternative development project at Kyauk Ka Cha, near Taunggyi, where UN chief Ban Ki-Moon visited in April 2012, was a flop. “To make any (drug) programme work,” he explains, “we need three things: the leadership by the regional government, effective assistance from the outside, and the people’s participation. 

The first session, which begins right after the break, is about regional trends in drug markets, policy responses and drug policy reform:

CCDAC:       The new drug control policy is expected to be adopted by April next year (Earlier it was reported by Myanmar Times that the proposed changes to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law would likely decriminalize drug addiction, sending users to rehabilitation centers instead of jail)

Thailand:         30 years ago, heroin was the rage in the kingdom. Then came meth. The three most common types of illicit drugs in use are cannabis, meth and kratom (a substance derived from Mitregyna speciosa)
                        Globally, data has suggested that strict drug control policies do not always translate into lower level of drug use.

The result is that the present justice minister Paiboon Koomchaya is pushing for reform, backed by royally-initiated Khamlangjai Project.

The Philippines:       More body counts which go hand in hand with the upsurge in the president’s popularity.

The participants, especially those from the unofficial side, don’t appear to be in favor of the UNGASS outcome. While several celebrities and world leaders had called for a change to the response to drugs that promotes global health, security and human rights, they say the UNGASS resolution is continuing existing approaches. For instance, decriminalization of drug use was nowhere mentioned.

The afternoon session is about alternative development. Here are some notes I have jotted down:

Mae Fah Luang:          The motto is 3-S: Survival, Sufficiency, and Sustainability
Foreign participant:    Eradication first policy doesn’t work.
Domestic participant: If we look at what has happened in the Wa area (after the opium ban in 2005), we may find that it’s a classic case of: the operation’s a success, only the patient died.

Today’s programme ends with a dinner party at Shwe Yin Chuan, a Chinese restaurant. 


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