Historic town needs new handle
Historic town needs new handle, say locals
According to a group of Shans in Thailand who had been on a visit to Panglong, the celebrated town where the signing of the treaty that joined non-Burman British territories with Burma in 1947 took place, the town fits in with two names other than its own, which means "big gathering."
"It has become a place of gambling dens (Panglawng) and drug hangouts (Pangya) now," said a native of the town, who returned last month.
In April, they said, it was decided that the construction of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda replica in town, recently ordered by Rangoon, necessitated a gambling festival to procure the funds. "We saw even young women and children working as dealers," said one. "It was a shock to all of us and, speaking for myself, I haven't been able to get over it even after a month of my return."
A native of Hsipaw who was there also commented, "Gambling has become a way of life for many. In some places, they are even using yaba (methamphetamine pills) as wagers."
Toommo, one of the neighborhood known for its famous theatrical performers, has become a place of taboo for many parents who forbid their children to shun it. "If you go there, people will think you are either an addict or a trafficker," one of the sources was admonished by a relative. "Even shopkeepers selling yapu (betel-nut quid) are getting rich there. That's abnormal, she said."
All the sources claimed they saw poppy fields within sight of the town during their visit.
Pangya, pronounced Pinya by the Burmese, can also be translated as grassland. It was one of the kingdoms founded by the Shans in the Irrawaddy valley following the collapse of Pagan in the 13th century.
Panglawng is a town 64 miles west of Taunggyi.
Rangoon has also been constructing several other Shwe Dagon replicas in Shan State including Kengtung, Tachilek, Mongyai, Mongpan and Kunhing.