CHIANGRAI TIMES – Thailand has allocated THB15 million to help Myanmar set up a self-sufficient community to cut down on the country’s opium cultivation. In pursuit of the Drug-Free ASEAN 2015 goal.
Deputy Secretary General of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) Sukhum Opartnipat expressed that Thailand is confident that a drug-free ASEAN can be achieved by 2015. The collective goal among ASEAN member countries targets the eradication of opium, which can be refined into heroin, from the region.
Mr. Sukhum stated that at present there are approximately 1,000 rais of illicit opium cultivation in the North of Thailand, along the border of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces. Meanwhile, the situation of opium cultivation in certain ASEAN states sees no improvement, especially in Myanmar and Laos, where 200 tons and 40 tons of opium are still cultivated, respectively.
Mr. Sukhum added that in order to achieve the Drug-Free ASEAN 2015 goal, the ONCB has allocated a budget of THB15 million to help the government of Myanmar establish a sustainable alternative development project for people living in opium cultivation areas. The Doi Tung project under the Mae Fah Luang Foundation will be responsible for carrying out a pilot development program in the Tachilek region of Shan State. The project will introduce the community members to His Majesty King Bhumibol’s self-sufficiency philosophy while also creating career opportunities for them. Products made by the community members will be sold in Thailand through the Doi Tung project.
This project will be beneficial to Thailand as it will eradicate drug smuggling into the kingdom across the Thai-Myanmar border as well as set Thailand free from being a transit route for narcotic drugs to other countries.
Additionally, the ONCB Deputy Secretary General pointed out the current drug situation in the ASEAN region. Mr. Sukhum explained that member countries, especially Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam, are facing as many drug-related problems as Thailand at present. The most problematic drugs in ASEAN are heroin and meth.