|Leader of Mongla returns
to face crisis
Leun a.k.a Lin Mingxian, leader of Special Region #4, tucked away
in eastern Shan State's northeastern corner, has recovered from
his protracted illness following a second massive stroke late 2001,
Leun, called by the Burmese as U Sai Lin, made his first public
appearance during the annual water festival in April, according
to them. He was later reported by The New Light of Myanmar, Rangoon's
official organ, as one of the well-wishers welcoming Gen Khin Nyunt
at Kengtung airport on 18 may.
"He has also resumed his former responsibilities as president
of the National Democratic Alliance Army (Eastern Shan State), a
post he had conferred to Sarm Per, one of his trusted lieutenants,
during his long illness," said the source in Tachilek.
His comeback, however, coincided with China's recall for their
tens of thousands of citizens residing in Mongla (Ref: Mongla crashes
as Chinese leave, S.H.A.N., 18 July 2003) leaving the once booming
city "dry', as the NDAA's main revenue derived from tourists
form the neighboring Chinese province of Yunnan.
"Sai Leun had declared his domain drug free in 1997,"
said an insider source. "The Chinese latest action will be
a test of how long he can hold Mongla away form drugs."
Lin had been, until 2000, among the ten drug suspects blacklisted
by the United States. The State Department's annual report dropped
his name from the list that year.
According to Invisible Borders: Reportage from Our Mekong, published
in May by Bangkok-based Inter Press Service Asia-Pacific, the special
region, 5,000 square kilometers and 74,000 people, was founded on
30 June 1989. Mongla is less than 10 km from the border checkpoint.
Its revenue last year was 80 million yuan ($ 9.6 million). More
than 80 percent of employees of the region's government are Chinese
migrants. It has, until recently, witnessed an influx of 350,000
tourists per year since 1996, most of them day trippers form China.
He had, the report says, in 1990 asked China to help his campaign
against opium planting. Since then China has spent nearly $ 1.5
million and sent out more than 1,000 agricultural experts to develop
alternative livelihoods, such food processing.
But shifting away from opium and going into the market economy
is no easy task, the report says. "From time to time we found
poppies planted covertly in some remote areas," it quotes one
of the region's top officials as saying.
It has also experienced the downside of the market economy. In
2002, farmers lost money when, after harvesting more than 4,500
tonnes of water melons, the Chinese had offered too low prices.
Also four years earlier, Mongla invested $ 3.6 million in the construction
of a sugar refinery only to find that there was no market for it
over in China.