The Yingluck Shinawatra government on Saturday, 30 June, received an angry protest from the Burmese government over the presentation of an anti-drug service award for Shan State Army (SSA) leader Lt-Gen Yawdserk, according to both Thai and Shan sources.
Although exact wording of the verbal outcry is not available, the gist of it was that Naypyitaw was not happy with Thaialnd’s “interference with Myanmar’s internal affairs.”
The Burmese complaint, delivered through its embassy in Bangkok, also expressed its displeasure with the Thai government’s 20 April reward announcement on Burmese drug suspects Naw Kham ($ 66,666.6), Saw La Bwe aka Nakhanmwe ($ 33,333.3) and Yishay ($ 33,333.3). “They thought Thailand should confer with them first before making it public,” said a Thai security source.
Naw Kham was arrested by a joint Chinese-Lao raiding party in Laos 5 days later. He is currently under custody in China. As for the two others: Saw La Bwe, leader of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) that has been at truce with Naypyitaw since November, and Yishay, leader of a Tachilek- based People’s Militia Force (PMF), they have not been taken any action by the Burmese government.
Yawdserk, in the meanwhile, told SHAN he had been informed of the Burmese protest. “I have nothing much to say about this,” he said. “I myself was surprised when I was informed that I had been chosen by the phuyai (authorities) in Bangkok for the award. As for me, I have been helping successive Thai governments out of a sense of duty and had not been expecting any award. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the recognition.”
It is not known how the Thai government has responded to Naypyitaw. “But we are also surprised by the Burmese reaction to the award,” said an official, “because we thought they would have been pleased about one of their citizens being honored by a foreign country.”
The Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), as the SSA South is officially known, declared an anti-narcotics policy following a bonfire of seized drugs in 1998. But its opponents have also accused it of being involved in the production and trade.
It is one of the 12 armed groups that have signed ceasefire agreements with Naypyitaw since September 2011. It has also agreed to cooperate with Naypyitaw in the fight against drugs.