The crack down on the Burma Custom Department was originally started from the series of provocations between the Custom Department of the Ministry of Finance and Revenue (CD) and Border Control Force: BCF (Na Sa Kha) the combined force set up to supervise and implement border trade activities. This force was used to lead by a military intelligence officer (now called Military Security Force MSF (Sa Ya Hpa)) and composed of all related organizations, including immigration, customs, internal revenue department, police offices, drug control offices, the Myanmar Economic Bank and so forth. The ostensible purpose of the force was to promote border trade in a systematic manner. In reality, however, military intelligence monopolized the most lucrative route of border trade, which eventually led to a major clash within the different authorities.

The first case started from the infamous “MUSEI town” the small town bordering between China and Burma located north-east of upper Burma (It was the same place where the problem between the Burma’s Military Intelligence and Burma Army was started and lead to the fall down of powerful Premier General Khin Nyunt)
Both clashes were started between two different authorities over the either uneven sharing of the corrupted money acquired from smugglers and seizing back and forth of smuggled goods of the both sides (in simple words “Smuggling” and “Corruption”)
In this case, the custom officers from the border town Musei had seized the truck full of illegal goods which are banned from import to Burma from China, later those goods are turn out to be owned by one high ranking officer from NASAKHA: Border Control Force: (BCF). The BCF officer actually protested and negotiated with the customs but the goods are already declared and reported to the Rangoon head office, so the BCF officer had lost about three hundred thousands dollars worth of illegal goods in one day. But the real problem was the BCF officer in question turned out to be the son in law of number one man in Burma “Senior General Than Shwe” who was recently married to his daughter with the greatest wedding reception ever in Burma history.

One week later, the whole custom department from the Muse town has been arrested and sentenced to jail for 66 years each charged with “Corruption” and “Smuggling”.
The Managing Director of the Directorate of the Custom Department (Retired Col. from Burma Army) was very unhappy and planned to stage a counter attack on BCF, he had ordered his officers from border areas to collect detail information on BCF’s smuggling and corruption activities in border trade and finally filed up the report contained of 300 pages detailing every smuggling and corruption activities of BCF in border trade.

One month later the MD of the custom department had finally reveal his brilliant works and report to the Senior General Than Shwe in the quarterly meeting of the Junta Government in front of every Ministers and Department heads, explaining detail of the corruption and smuggling of BCF and ask for punishment. But the only thing he forgot was the number one suspect on his black list is the high ranked BCF officer who happens to be the son in law of Senior General Than Shwe (who also lost 300,000 USD because of his officers).

The MD of the custom department was forced to retired and arrested on the spot for no reason. One week later he was sentenced to Jail for 66 years for the charge of “Corruption”, all of his properties have been nationalized and all of his bank accounts have been freeze immediately by Junta. The MD’s beloved family was forced to removed from their own house and turned down to extremely poor status over night.

(The MD rank in Burma’s Custom department is a very unstable job, no one ever lasted more than a year but this MD was the only one who can stayed in the position for over four years for his rightfulness and kindness, he wasn’t directly involved in the corruption cases of the Customs but he have accepted the valued presents giving him in honor from his fellow custom officers, when BSI searched his house they found those valued presents and used them to accused MD, and he was also the first customs MD to be jailed ever)

And the story does not end here as the Junta has ordered Burma’s infamous BSI (Bureau for Special Investigation) to make full investigation on every custom units and departments of Burma, BSI was questioned every custom officers and made a very famous “The List” of the Burma’s custom history. The List is in fact categorizing the every custom officer from custom department to group (A) (B) (C) (D) and (E). The officers who are listed in group (A) and (B) are considered as serious offenders in the charge of “Corruption”, the officers listed in group (C), (D) and (E) are also offended to Burma’s unclear law but less serious compared to (A) and (B).

After thorough investigation and report by BSI, junta starts to take action on the most serious offenders from the group (A), arrested them at the night at their residences, sent them to court, charged with Corruption and sentenced them from 66 years to 100 years in Jail according to BSI report.

o every custom officer who happened to be listed in group (A) and (B) of The List were ran away and hide in various places, some of them went to other countries taking the whole family and their hard earning Cash.

At first BSI was not very interested to play hide and seek with the customs, But very serious incidents has occurred by some custom officers who ran for their liberty and their properties.

First incident was by two high ranked custom officers who ran to Singapore with their whole families; they have invested 2 million Singapore dollars each in Singapore and managed to obtained instant PR (Permanent Residence) visa. When Junta heard that news, they were so pissed off (probably because they didn’t get the shares) and ordered to hunt and arrest every customs from group (A) and (B). BSI has hunted down and arrested hundred of customs within a week and put them into jail without trial.

Second incident: Junta (Than Shwe) foolishness for revenge (for his son-in-law) and BSI’s notorious methods of hunting operation has resulted to another tragedy for them.
Two high ranked customs (who are extremely frightened) from “Myawaddy town” (another small town located in south-east of Burma bordering Burma and Thailand) has ran into the “Maesot” the border town at the Thailand side. And they have ran directly to the NCGUB office (National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma: the biggest anti-government organization) and asked for an asylum. NCGUB happily give them refugee status and later they proudly announced the news and welcoming more asylum seekers from custom department.

Again the Junta was extremely pissed off with the news and hardens the operation by ordering to arrest every customs from The List regardless of which group they belonged, and sentenced them from 7 years to 100 years in Jail, nearly 400 officers were jailed within a week. Then the hide and seek game were started through out Burma between the BSI and the Customs, almost every customs listed in The List were ran away to avoid long term jail, so the whole custom operation in Burma has stopped and then without surprise BCF was happily took over the nationwide customs operation immediately. But BCF only have experiences in controlling (in fact smuggling) border trade, they are not qualified to handle Airports and Seaports operations, so many funny events have occurred within a month and finally they give up.

Only then the Junta finally realized that what they have done and they start softening on the case, Junta finally ordered to withdrawal BSI hunt operation, made second time trial on the jailed officers who were on the group (B), (C), (D) and (E), dropped some charges and released some of them and ordered them to go back to the respective duties, Junta even announced the amnesty to all the custom fugitives and requested to report to the department and also promised to give their job back. But there is a CATCH that they don’t announced that the job is only secure if the returned officers is considered as “Skills Technicians” which means he must be non-replaceable for his skills and experiences in custom operations otherwise he will not get the job back and probably may get arrested for being fugitives.

Never the less many custom officers who tired of hide and seek has turned in, report back to the head office and waiting for their uncertain future under the world most notorious Government (Junta of Burma).

[During the BSI’s hunt operation, hundreds of customs were arrested and violated (they were asked for bribe by BSI and many of the customs had to bribe them from 1000 USD to 10000 USD just to reduce their years of sentences), thousands of the family members and relatives of the customs had been ruthlessly interrogated by BSI and they also have to bribed BSI officers for them and for their beloved family members. Million dollars worth of properties, vehicles, cash, jewelleries and bank accounts has been either nationalized by Junta (or) stolen by BSI officers. After the event once the upper class families of Burma has turned down to the lowest class families in Burma within a month]
This story is dedicated to

(1) The Managing Director of Custom Department who bravely stands against the ruling Junta

(2) The officer who shares this story to the writer

(3) The families of the custom officers (especially the family of customs MD) who are still suffering from the Junta foolishness

(4) People of Burma who live under “The most notorious, foolish and ruthless Government” the world has ever seen, who are not hesitate to destroy his own Ministry and employees for worthless reason (revenge for Junta leader’s son-in-law and his money)

 

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