Increasing secret opium cultivation concerns Princess Sirindhorn

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has voiced concern over the increase in secret opium poppies growing in remote hill tribe communities in Northern Thailand.

This was revealed by the commander of the Third Army Region Lt-Gen Vichaka Siribunsop after a recent audience with the Princess.

The northern army commander who also heads the Drug Prevention and Suppression Centre in the north said that the Princess expressed her concern of the secret opium poppy cultivation in Om-koi and Mae Chaem districts of Chiang Mai.

The Princess was concerned about the spreading of opium drugs in remote hill tribe communities as she was raising funds for the expansion of Mae Chaem hospital to facilitate hill tribe people to receive treatment at the place, instead of having difficulties to make it to Maharaj hospital or other state hospitals in the towns.

Lt-Gen Vichaka revealed further that during his audience with the Princess, she said there are still increasing secret growing of opium poppies in areas where several royal projects are located.

He said the Third Army has been launching tough campaign to destroy opium poppies particularly in hill areas of Om-koi, Chiang Dao, and Mae Taeng.

Drastic legal actions were also enforced to deal with financiers of opium poppy growing, he said.

Influential people who financed opium poppy growing have used innocent hill tribe people to grow, thus making them to escape the forestry law.

But with the orders of the military junta now in force, these financiers will be considered influential people and can be dealt with by the orders, he said.

He said the military will now focus on enforcing orders to deal with people who hire hill tribe people to grow opium poppies.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)