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Statement at the Opening Ceremony

Subject: Statement  at the Opening Ceremony of the Museum on Drugs (1/2)

Statement made by Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt  Secretary (1) of 
the State Law and Order Restoration Council at the 
Opening Ceremony of the Museum on Narcotic Drugs 
held to  Commemorate the total eradication of narcotic 
drugs in Maingla (23-4-97) (part-1)

		At the outset, I wish to extend my warm 
greetings and best wishes on the occasion of the 
auspicious Myanmar New Year to the Ministers, 
Departmental Heads, Representatives from UN Agencies, 
Diplomats and Military Attaches, specially invited  guests  
from neighbouring countries, domestic and foreign media 
persons, leaders of various groups of the national races 
and local brethren living in the region, present here today 
to attend the ceremony making the total eradication of 
narcotic drugs in Maingla region in Eastern Shan State 
and the opening of the Museum on narcotic drugs held 
to commemorate this significant event.

		Today we take much pleasure and pride in 
declaring that Maingla region in Eastern Shan State has 
been totally eradicated of narcotic drugs. It is an auspicious 
day symbolising pride and honour for the State. Today's 
ceremony clearly reflects the successful cooperation 
between the Government and the local inhabitants. At 
the same time, it manifests that the Government and the 
people of Myanmar are fighting the scourge of narcotic 
drugs not with empty words but in practical terms with 
full of zeal and enthusiasm.

		The cultivation of poppy and production and 
use of opium were introduced when Myanmar fell under 
the colonialists. The colonialists sanctioned the local 
people to legally cultivate poppy in some regions of Shan 
and Kachin States. They also permitted legal trading of 
opium in order to collect revenue. Opium dens were 
permitted to open upon payment of taxes and opium 
consumers were legally allowed under registration to use 

		The poppy cultivated in the east of Thanlwin 
river in the Shan State was transported and sold by the 
colonial government. Over 200 opium dens were opened 
throughout the country and opium was sold to registered 
smokers and users.

		The cultivation of poppy , production and sale 
of opium  were legally carried out by the colonial 
government not only for revenue and economic gains, 
but also with a view to undermine the health, social and 
moral values of the Myanmar people. In other words, a 
program pernicious to the inherent capabilities of the 
entire populace of Myanmar was laid down.

		Myanmar people under successive kings had 
fine traditions of civilisation and culture. During the reign 
of Myanmar  kings, there had been no practice of 
cultivating poppy. From historical evidence, it is known 
that opium came into use around 4000 B.C. in the 
Mediterranean region of Central Europe as herbal 
medicine and that it was introduced in Asia in the 16th 
Century when sea transportation developed and 
westerners established commercial links with "Asia 
through sea  routes.Therefore, we could concretely say 
that" Opium" is not a substance and a word of Myanmar 
origin; rather it is a substance and a word imported by 
the colonialists through their military and economic 

		As you are aware, Myanmar people, in 
accordance with religious teachings, social values and 
cultural traditions completely refrain from taking the five 
intoxicants of opium, marijuana, intoxicating preparations 
made from palm sugar;.glutinous rice and alcohjol. 
Myanmar kings of ancient times, prohibited the five 
intoxicants NAND effectively suppressed them by meting 
out severe punishment including the death penalty to 

		However, as I had mentioned earlier, under 
the colonialists, poppy was allowed to be grown and 
permitted to be produced, sold and used, thus laying down 
the way to seriously damage the Myanmar people's 
inherent capabilities.

		After Myanmar's independence, although 
measures to eradicate the cultivation of poppy and use of 
opium through enactment of laws, issuance of 
regulations, order and instructions and international 
cooperation were carried out, they were largely ineffective 
and unsuccessful. The main reason for the failure is due 
to the instigation caused by external factors. Conditions 
were created by these elements for the armed groups 
opposed to the State to be involved with the production 
and dtrafficking of opium.

		Since 1968 the underground Burma 
Communist Party laid down the plan to dominate the 
Shweli  Valley and started its entry into the northeastern 
part of the country. They gradually expanded territory 
into the Kokang and Wa regions and to the region east of 
Kyaingtone. From 1970 onwards, the mainstay of the 
economy of the BCP was the production, trafficking and 
sale of narcotic drugs. One could see from this 
background that the stability and tranquillity of the State 
was affected by the linkage of the production, trafficking 
and sale of narcotic drugs to the purchase of illegal arms 
by the armed groups who had received the encouragement 
and instructions of the clandestine organisations of some 

		Upon the assumption of State responsibilities, 
the State Law and Order Restoration Council while 
striving for the stability of the State, community peace 
and tranquillity and the rule of law and order, has laid special emphasis for
the achievement of national 
reconsolidation. The State Law and Order Restoration 
Council has, with all sincerity and goodwill  towards the 
armed groups belonging to the national races, worked 
for national reconsolidation.

		These armed groups upon clearly appreciating 
the sincerity and goodwill extended by the 'State and upon 
realising that their regions, after more than 40 years of 
losing contact with Myanmar proper, had lagged behind 
in development, exchanged arms for peace so that they 
could participate in the development efforts of their own 
national races.

		The first such armed group to exchange arms 
for peace was the Kokang group which had left the BCP's 
sphere of administration. As community peace and 
tranquillity prevails in the region and with the all round 
development of the region, the rays of hope for the 
eradication of poppy cultivation have become brighter.

		Likewise, the Wa's the Shans, the Kachins, the 
Palaungs, the Kayahs, the Pa-o's, the Mons- all these 
national brethren have one by one exchanged arms for   
peace. The latest group to come  into the legal fold being 
the Burma Communist Party, Rakhine State led by U Saw 
Tun Oo. Together with this group the total number of 
armed groups returning to the legal fold now stands at 

		The successive Governments of the Union of 
Myanmar have never encouraged the production and sale 
of narcotic drugs during any period. Moreover, the 
Myanmar  Tatmadaw has consistently opposed and fought 
against the production and sale of narcotic drugs through 
military operations as part of its combat against the 
scourge of narcotic drugs.

		After assuming the State responsibilities, the 
State Law and Order Restoration Council, while working 
for the achievement of national reconsolidation for the 
perpetuation of the Union, has transformed its tactics to 
that of cooperation with the local inhabitants in 
combatting the scourge of narcotic drugs.

		As such, with the prevalence of peace and 
tranquillity, the regions of the national brethren have been 
designated as special zones where programs to uplift the 
living standards of the local inhabitants are undertaken 
through the border areas and regional development 
activities. At the same time, measures to eradicate 
productoin of narcotic drugs were also carried out.

		In order to undertake the border areas 
development activities, the Central Committee for the 
Development of the Border Areas and National Races 
together with the Working Committee and  Regional 
Committees have been established. Moreover, the 
Ministry of Progress of Border Areas & National Races 
and Development Affairs was also formed. This Ministry 
has effectively worked for the development  of the border 

		As for the Central Committee for Drug Abuse 
Control, it has systematically laid down the following 
national strategies for the control of narcotic drugs:

	-	To carry out drug abuse control activities as a 
national duty in all aspects with momentum.

	-	To gradually eradicate the practice of poppy 
cultivation as the living conditions of the border areas 
inhabitants and national races fare developed.

		With these strategies in hand, the Central 
Committee for Drug Abuse Control is carrying out the 
eradication of narcotic drugs together with development 
activities of the border areas.

		At present, a three year plan commencing May 
1995 has been drawn up for the Special Zone (2) in 
northern Shan State with a view to implement Opium 
Free Zones in the designated areas of Wa region, namely 
- Pau Kham special township , Main Pauk region of Nam  
Tit special township, Ho Taun region, Mainmaw region 
and Main Yun region. Kachin State in 1991 was designate 
as Opium Free State and in the specila zones (1) and (2) 
of Kachin State the eradication of cultivation of  poppy 
and hashish has commenced.

		Similarly, in Maingla, the  special zone (4) of 
Eastern Shan State, starting from 1991 a plan to eradicate 
poppy cultivation within 6 years was initiated. The plan 
was implemented in three segments- the first one in Nam 
Pan area, the second in Maing Ma/ Maingla area and the 
third in Silu area. Today it could be declared with pride 
that all these three areas are Opium Free Zones.

		Towards achieving this end, the Government 
and the local inhabitants cooperated hand-in-hand in 
regional development activities and in improving the 
educational, health, social and economic standards of 
the local inhabitants.

		In particular, the Government has built new 
hospitals, dispensaries and schools and also constructed 
irrigation canals, dams, hydroelectric stations, and 
developed communications infrastructure such as 
telegram services and telephones and TV relay stations.

		In tandem with the above-mentioned 
infrastructure development the Government has provided 
villages with water ; substitute crops; agricultlural farms 
for developing livestock breeding;  animal husbandry 
and vetinarary services and agricultural mechanisation 
stations, all with a view to uplift the living standards and 
economic conditions of the local inhabitants.

		Furthermore, the three and half years plan for 
Maingla region's development was implemented with the 
cooperation of Myanmar, China and UNDCP. Under this 
plan, roads, medical dispensaries, primary schools were 
built and potable water and substitute crops were made 
available to the  local people.

		One may also observe the infrastructure 
development activities undertaken under the leadership 
provided by the leaders of the national races and  their 
efforts- namely in the construction of roads, irrigation 
networks, dams, new towns; cultivation and export of 
substitute crops across the border and modernisation and 
development of urban areas.

		Maingla used to be a small town no larger than 
a big village before peace and tranquillity prevailed. 
Today, it is a bustling border town with modern hotels, 
restaurants, religious edifices, modern buildings and round 
the clock electricity supply.

to be continued...