Monghsu, Land of Rubies, becomes Sin City
Local villagers were the first to begin mining for rubies in Mongsu in 1991. However, the mining areas. They then auctioned off the best areas to the highest bidders.
Various armed organizations that have reached ceasefire agreements with the SLORC, namely the Shan State Army, the Kokang, Wa, Force 815, the Pa-O, Palaung and Kachin Defense Army (K.D.A) have all bid for and been granted different areas. Those who do not belong to a particular group have had to work as manual labourers. Many of these workers are people who have fled conscription as porters for the SLORC army.
Owing to the diversity of rival armed groups in the area, and cut-throat competition, life is dangerous, and arms are in high demand. For Chinese-made M-20s, 9mm pistols, including Colt.38s, the prices have risen to between 70,000 to 80,000 kyats each.
No mine-owners or traders want to declare their earnings officially, and so on financial transactions are dealt with through the official banking system. People carry huge amounts of cash on them instead, and thus also need arms to protect themselves.
In this cash-rich environment, all kinds of side-industries, such as trade in opium and heroin, gambling and prostitution, are flourishing. The spread of AIDS is rampant.
It is sad indeed that this fabled "Land of Rubies" has now gained a reputation of being a "Sin City", where violence and corruption is the norm.
Northeastern Shan State