Govt Task Force Nabs ‘Illegal’ Materials from Flood Relief Vehicles

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 20 August 2015

RANGOON — A mobile government task force assigned to combat the smuggling of goods seized materials from two vehicles involved in flood relief efforts on Monday that it claimed were illegally brought in from Thailand.

The vehicles, one belonging to the Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics and the other to the 88 Generation Student Youths (Union of Myanmar), were stopped and searched in Pegu on Monday, with authorities confiscating 4.1 million kyat worth of interior car accessories, allegedly imported illegally.

“They [the party members] didn’t have legal customs documents for those materials,” Than Win, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce, told The Irrawaddy.

The two vehicles were traveling from Karen State’s Myawaddy on the Thai-Burma border with relief items including drinking water, medicines, rice and other foods for flood victims in Thegon Township, Pegu Division.

But the government’s mobile task force saw fit to search the two vehicles on Monday after noticing the car accessories that it suspected to be uncertified, a task force official said. The items were confiscated and sent to the customs department.

Ye Tun, chairman of the 88 Generation Student Youths (Union of Myanmar), said the party members were focused on flood relief efforts and had not deliberately breached import restrictions.

“Those members don’t know what they should and shouldn’t do, they’re just [focused] on helping flood victims,” he said.

“I think they unintentionally brought these goods without documents and the government should only warn them.”

The two small political parties are closely affiliated; both were formed in 2010 and comprised of former student activists. Neither has any affiliation with the 88 Generation Students group led by activists Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi.