Wa group deny drug suspect is deputy-chair

Wa group deny drug suspect is deputy-chair

The Wa National Organisation (WNO) claims it had cut ties with its former deputy-chairman, Ta Maha, who is currently being held by Thai police on drug charges.

Ta Maha was detained last week by police in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai Province where he was found in possession of methamphetamine with a street value of more than 6 million baht (US$170,000).

Speaking to DVB by phone on Monday, WNO General-secretary Ta Nyi Lu said Ta Maha had not been in touch with the group for more than five months, and was suspended from his position as the group’s deputy-chairman in May.

“Ta Maha had no contact whatsoever with us – he had been absent from our monthly meetings for about five months, said Ta Nyi Lu. “We wanted to know why, but he never contacted us. For that, our central committee decided to temporarily suspend him from his position at meetings on 2 and 3 May.”

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The WNO general-secretary said that according to the group’s regulations, members found committing offenses that could harm the image of the group can be automatically expelled.

Burmese and Thai media reports on Ta Maha’s arrest highlighted his position as the WNO deputy-chairman.

The WNO, with its armed-wing, the Wa National Army, was formed in 1974 by the late Ta Maha San with the objective of fighting for a federal union and independent Wa state.

Thai police, at a press conference on 23 June, said Ta Maha, 67, had been sought for alleged connections with Yi Say, a drug lord wanted by Thai authorities. Ta Maha was arrested on 21 June after local police detained a Shan man carrying the speed pills, who later confessed they belonged to the former WNO deputy-chairman.

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