Burma

Minister: Mon State Police Have No Budget to Fight Drugs

By Hintharnee 15 June 2017

MOULMEIN — The Mon State police force has no government allocated budget to combat drug distribution in the state, Col Win Naing Oo, Mon State’s security and border affairs minister, told state lawmakers during the parliamentary session on Thursday.

“We don’t have any budget allocated by either the Union government or the state government. We have to carry out [anti-drug activities] on our own,” said the minister. This has led police to limit the crackdown on narcotics to what is possible with contributions from donors, he added.

“We need a budget to address the drug problem on a wider scale,” Col Win Naing Oo said, who added that last year Mon State also lacked an anti-narcotics budget. It is not clear if there such budgets were in place under the former U Thein Sein-led government.

In 2016, a total of 283 drug cases were exposed and actions were taken against 425 individuals in connection with drug cases in Mon State, according to the minister.

From Jan 1 to May 31, a total of 114 drug cases came to light and 81,358 methamphetamine tablets were seized, Col Win Naing Oo added.

The minister said that arresting drug dealers is a risky business as police must obtain physical evidence, and, while working under cover, they often are asked to use the drugs they buy from dealers.

“We have to arrest them while they are selling [the drugs]. Dealers never sell to you right away. They ask you to use it, or inhale it. Only when the buyer uses it, do they believe the seller is a drug addict and will sell to them. So, it is risky,” the minister explained.

He highlighted how the Mon State government runs free rehabilitation centers to address drug addiction, sponsors education campaigns for the public, and imposes harsh penalties on dealers.

On Thursday, the Mon State parliament approved the proposal of U Aung Kyaw Thu from Thaton Constituency (2), which urged the state government to adopt more effective approaches in curbing drug abuse among students.

His proposal was seconded by military representative Maj Thein Zaw, who said “not only students, but also people of all ages are abusing drugs in the state, which is a real cause for concern.”

After the parliamentary session, Mon State chief minister Dr. Aye Zan told reporters that he would make sure there was an anti-narcotics budget in place for the state in the next fiscal year, but that it would be impossible to procure such funds for the current fiscal year.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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