Political Economy of the Golden Triangle

This ongoing series investigates the connections between the politics of Myanmar, the country’s long internal conflict, and the central role of the Kuomintang in the opium trade.

Michael Kyaw Myint

While reading reports on the 2020 Election in Myanmar we came across stories related to the far-right “Rose Party”. Its founder and leader, Michael Kyaw Myint, was arrested for laundering foreign money through the party.

These are our early leads on this story.

Anti-Communist Triads in Myanmar

We started our investigation of Michael Kyaw Myint’s alleged Triad connections by searching for the largest Triad groups in Myanmar.

Michael Kyaw Myint’s Canadian Detour

In 2009 Kyaw Myint gave a biographical interview (as Michael Hua Hu) to the Vancouver Sun. There he revealed that he was a Communist Party of Burma member until the 1989 coup and dissolution of the party. Thereafter he became a leader of the local remnant of the CPB, the United Wa State Party and Army. The Sun’s investigation turned up a hidden story: that Kyaw Myint entered the drug trade after the CPB split, funding the Wa separatist movement with the proceeds.

Prince Prosperous of the Golden Triangle

Before we go deeper with Michael Kyaw Myint let’s become acquainted with Khun Sa, the king of poppies.

Opium Economics in Wa State

The United Wa State Army has been using opium to fund its activities for decades, but efforts by UWSA to end this dependency have been frustrated by international sanctions.