Chief min­is­ter ad­mits state has drug prob­lem

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - NAW BETTY HAN naw­bet­ty­[email protected]­times.com

In the sec­ond and fi­nal part of an in­ter­view, Kayin Chief Min­is­ter Nan Khin Htwe Myint ad­mits that her gov­ern­ment is strug­gling to beat the state’s drug men­ace.

IN this sec­ond and con­clud­ing part of our in­ter­view, Kayin State Chief Min­is­ter Nan Khin Htwe Myint dis­cusses the drug men­ace be­set­ting the state and the gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to ad­dress it. She also dis­cusses the con­tro­ver­sial Shwa Mya Sandi hous­ing pro­ject in Myawady and the plight of peo­ple who have been dis­placed by con­flict in the state. Here are ex­cerpts:

Could you give us an up­date on the Shwe Mya Sandi hous­ing pro­ject in Myawady town­ship? Shwe Mya Sandi is not a hous­ing pro­ject. Peo­ple live il­le­gally there and call it hous­ing. Most of the peo­ple liv­ing there are squat­ters. It is un­der the authority of the Kayin gov­ern­ment, so we have to evac­u­ate them. A peace or­gan­i­sa­tion sold plots of land there and called it a hous­ing pro­ject, but it is owned by the state. I ex­plained this to the res­i­dents. Ac­cord­ing to the land use pol­icy, only the state has authority to de­cide what to do with the land.

We have warned peo­ple who bought the land, which has been il­le­gally di­vided and sold, that we will re­move them one day. We are go­ing to clear this area soon.

We have heard that the For­est De­part­ment is­sued no­tices to res­i­dents to move out of their houses in the area. Can you tell us about it? The For­est De­part­ment is­sued no­tices to the squat­ters be­cause they have oc­cu­pied a for­est area. I warned the res­i­dents it is il­le­gal. They bought the land de­spite our warn­ings. Some of them bought five or ten plots. As they are il­le­gal, they could suf­fer huge losses if they build big build­ings.

What big projects and plans has the state gov­ern­ment car­ried out since tak­ing of­fice in 2016? There are bridge and road projects in our state. I al­ways say that un­like other re­gions and states, there are no big projects in Kayin.

The big pro­ject was the Asian High­way Pro­ject, but it was sus­pended be­cause NGOS told vil­lagers that it would harm the en­vi­ron­ment. There is a health plan that pro­vides K1000 per day to women af­ter giv­ing birth.

How about the pro­vi­sion of aid to refugee camps in Kayin? Has the re­cent death of Sayadaw Myaing Gyi Ngu, who gave them as­sis­tance reg­u­larly, had an ef­fect? Are for­eign and lo­cal non-govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions help­ing them? We reg­u­larly pro­vide them with ne­ces­si­ties such as rice and cook­ing oil. If they tell us they have other needs, we give it to them within one week. We want them to re­set­tle in nearby vil­lages be­cause if they con­tinue liv­ing in th­ese con­di­tions, it will af­fect their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion and their liveli­hoods. Now the area has re­turned to nor­mal, and peo­ple even come to visit Ky­one Htaw Wa­ter­fall and other places. We want the refugees to go back home if pos­si­ble. Some for­eign or­gan­i­sa­tions like UNICEF pro­vide aid but not reg­u­larly. How is the peace and se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Kayin? Noth­ing much has changed in the state. It is gen­er­ally peace­ful, al­though there is some fight­ing in the up­per part of the state. There was fight­ing in Hpapun, but it was short­lived. Have you met with Kayin’s peace groups? I have reg­u­lar meet­ings with peace groups as well as with the armed eth­nic groups.

How are you deal­ing with the drug prob­lem? The drug prob­lem in Kayin is ter­ri­ble. It is ev­ery­where and it seems like a lot of peo­ple are in­volved, as they can eas­ily make money. Some peo­ple just want to take a short­cut and make money as fast as pos­si­ble.

We mainly try to change the at­ti­tude and re­ha­bil­i­tate peo­ple who use drugs by send­ing them to a hospi­tal. But re­cently we ob­tained land and money to build a re­cov­ery and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre. Con­struc­tion will start next year. What has been the most no­table achieve­ment of the cur­rent state gov­ern­ment? It would be in the pro­vid­ing of elec­tric­ity to peo­ple. This is one of the most chal­leng­ing tasks we face. Al­though not ev­ery town has elec­tric­ity yet, we have lighted many vil­lages since we took of­fice in 2016.

How are you pre­par­ing for the 2020 elec­tions? We are meet­ing the needs of the peo­ple. At first, we were over­whelmed by the mag­ni­tude of the work that needs to be done, but two years later, we find that we can han­dle the work.

We will travel to vil­lages and try to ful­fill peo­ple’s needs. We have made ev­ery ef­fort to help the peo­ple.

We want to put more ef­fort into the peace process. We want to give more sup­port to the fam­i­lies of armed eth­nic group mem­bers.

We will meet with the groups reg­u­larly to hear their con­cerns, needs and ad­vice. We will con­tinue our eco­nomic poli­cies.

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