Tue 8 May 2012
Filed under: Drugs,Regional
The ongoing war of words between those responsible for Thai anti-narcotics efforts and the senior leader of an armed Karen minority group would come to an end if the Myanmar authorities got involved and took care of the matter.Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said yesterday the dispute would not affect bilateral relations as it was not a diplomatic issue, but simply concerned a crime. He said he would however travel to Myanmar to discuss the matter, if necessary.
“Personally, I do not dare announce that the Myanmar authorities will cooperate fully over the matter, but I will do my best to sort it out,” he added.
Chalerm has been involved in a tit-for-tat verbal exchange with General Na Kha Muay, the top leader of the Yangon-allied Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), after he challenged him to stand trial in a Thai court to fight a narcotics indictment.
The deputy PM cited a court warrant issued for Na Kha Muay in 2003. Na Kha Muay had called on Chalerm to show proof that he had been producing and dealing in drugs, while Chalerm responded that a Thai court-approved warrant was credible enough.
The Karen general has since retaliated by closing 12 border crossings in areas under DKBA influence from Tak through to Kanchanaburi provinces.
Chalerm continued the verbal challenge in yesterday’s statement, saying, “Most minority groups have not sided with Na Kha Muay’s men, which are made up of hundreds of troops, who could not flex [sufficient] muscle against the might of the Thai military. I’m not giving them [DKBA] any credit.”
Asked about Na Kha Muay’s claim that he never received a copy of the warrant, and why he had only now initiated action against the Karen general despite the warrant having been issued nine years ago, the deputy premier said:
“The drugs issue had not been taken seriously since former prime minister Thaksin [Shinawatra] was ousted in the  coup, and the previous government was not active on suppression, resulting in the warrant not being pursued.”
Na Kha Muay has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow, when local and foreign media will be present at the DKBA’s invitation. The event was reportedly approved by the Myanmar authorities.
The DKBA insists that blacklisting Na Kha Muay would cause damage to the public image of both the organisation and the general.
In the invitation letter, the DKBA said other measures would be adopted in retaliation against “Thailand’s initiative” against the organisation, and that “true details of narcotics dealings would be revealed in the press conference”.
Meanwhile, a Nigerian man was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport yesterday for allegedly bringing in 2.85 kilograms of ice flakes. Police said Ogafor Harrison claimed that he did not own the drug found in his luggage, but was instead carrying it for a person who would then take it to Ho Chi Minh City.
In another sting, police arrested two men for allegedly possessing 99,600 amphetamine tablets and 56.81 grams of ice at their home in Samut Sakhon’s Muang district.
Suspect Sommit Bunkong told police that he bought the drugs from a Bangkok Remand Prison inmate known as Bang Ma, and that he had done this 10 times before.
Sommit has been imprisoned twice, first for a 10-year term and then for a two-year term, which he only recently completed.
The other suspect, Suphoj sae-Jeo, denied possessing the drugs. He completed a four-year jail term two years ago.