YANGON - Law enforcement authorities will conduct surprise checks on pavilions in Yangon during the water festival or Thingyan to reduce drug use.
“Alcohol and narcotic drug consumption is common during Thingyan. Yangon has the second-most seizures of stimulant tablets in the country. The rate of narcotic drugs consumption among youths is high, especially the rampant consumption during the festival. Youths are our future. Our move aims to control the use of narcotic drugs among young people and ensure the enforcement of the law during the festival,” said Naw Pan Thinzar Myo, the ethnic affairs minister for Kayin State, at a press conference at the Yangon Region government headquarters on April 2.
The regional government will revoke pavilion licences and will publicise incidences of drug use after the water festival.
Yangon Region Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein said: “We worry about public security due to the seizure of arms along with narcotic drugs. But we have made efforts to tighten security without affecting people’s happiness. The regional government will crack down on the trading and transport of narcotic drugs under the cover of the water festival in cooperation with police, various departments and the public.”
“Severe action will be taken when people inform officials about undisciplined pavilions. Both the police and the courts will take prompt action when someone commits acts that may disrupt people’s happiness,” the chief minister added.
The planned drug raid is on top of Yangon's new strategy in hosting the festival which marks the nation's New Year. Naw Pan Thinzar Myo announced earlier that Yangon would not allow commercial pavillions on Kaba Aye Pagoda Road and Kandawgyi Circular Road while the number of pavillions would be fewer to cut down water consumption.
On April 2, Yangon Region Minister Phyo Min Thein apologised to companies planning to construct commercial pavillions, saying that the ban was motivated by security concerns, traffic congestion and climate change. He acknowledged that many local entertainers had signed contracts to perform at the planned pavillions.
“We want artists to be actively involved in the reform process, along with the people. The new government aims to fulfil the wishes of the people and stay free of corruption. To permit water pavilions, we will be striving for a clean and transparent system,” said Minister Phyo Min Thein.
This year, Yangon has received 310 applications to erect water-throwing pavillions.