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Wanted drug suspect will hold press conference

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Lt-Col Yishay, Lahu militia leader wanted in Thailand on drug charges has announced that he is planning to hold a press conference some time in the near future, according to a news source calling himself Tachilek 4 News.

The transcription of his interview in Burmese on 31 October was emailed to SHAN yesterday. The source told SHAN he was not allowed to take Yishay’s photo.

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Yishay, 66, reward for whose capture has recently been increased from 1,000,000 baht ($ 32,258) to 2,000,000 baht ($ 64,516) denied he had anything to do with the drug business as accused by Thai officials. “Anyone, at any time, can come and investigate,” he offered.

He told “Tachilek 4 News” he owns shares in the company Thit Lwin Moe in Tachilek that is extracting manganese in Mong Koe, north of the city. “Besides, I have a 300 acre rubber plantation,” he said. “I am also raising chicken, cows and buffaloes.”

Yishay however didn’t say when the press conference will be held. “I will answer everything you want to know frankly at that time,” he promised nevertheless.

Of three of the Burmese drug suspects on Thailand’s wanted list, one, Naw Kham was captured on 25 April and is waiting court verdict in China. The other, Nakhan Mwe aka Saw La Bwe, leader of the Kloh Htoo Baw, formerly 5th Brigade of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), is a signatory to the ceasefire pact with Naypyitaw on 3 November 2011.

Nakhan Mwe had also held a press conference refuting the charges made by the Thai drug enforcement.

Yishay, who holds a Thai ID card under the name Chaiwat Pornsakulpaisarn, is a native of Kengtung. His military rank was attained while serving with the now defunct Mong Tai Army (MTA) led by the late Khun Sa. He had surrendered together with Khun Sa in 1997 and became the leader of the Burma Army run People’s Militia Force (PMF) of Nampong aka Yebuzan, 50 miles northwest of Tachilek, opposite Maesai.

He has been wanted in Thailand since 2003 when his home in Chiangmai’s Sansai district was raided by Thai officials on 28 December in the same year.

Thailand’s reward announcement does not seem to affect his day-to-day activities much, according to a Lahu source. “He is devoted to his mother who lives in Kengtung and visits her at least one a month,” she said. “His car is never searched at checkpoints on the way (Kengtung is 160 km north of Tachilek).”


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