Friday, August 18, 2017

Chronicles of Bei Ka Street
Astonishing methods used to solve heinous crimes: Records of Yangon's most famous consulting detective found

The Myanmar Times is pleased to take the opportunity afforded by the launch of our new weekly magazine, Weekend, to recall some of the most heinous crimes ever perpetrated in and around our great metropolis of Yangon. Many of these outrages, which occurred toward the closing years of the last century, may be unknown to our readers, as is the astonishing skill displayed in solving them by the Yangon consulting detective, U Sha Lok, who from time to time assisted the official police in solving mysteries beyond their comprehension. U Sha Lok, who was world-famous throughout Yangon in the eighties and nineties, brought to his singular profession astonishing powers of observation and deduction, which he deployed to bring many an incorrigible reprobate to book.

Though he himself cared nothing for public acclaim, shunned the limelight and was content to dwell modestly in the humble obscurity of his lodgings in Bei Ka Street, history is indebted to U Sha Lok’s friend and companion, Dr U Wa Zone, for recording, embellishing and sometimes outright inventing the exploits of the great detective. Some of the most gripping of these narratives, written in Dr Wa Zone’s crabbed hand in his private journal, recently came to light after decades in obscurity. They have now been recovered, translated and edited with devoted care by the leading criminologist Ko Nan Doi. Thanks to his exertions, readers will be able to relive the excitement that convulsed our readers 20 and more years ago as they witnessed U Sha Lok grapple with the forces of lawlessness and darkness.

Readers can learn of the shocking events presented in A Study in Saffron, in which Dr Wa Zone first made the acquaintance of U Sha Lok; of the international cause célèbre known as A Scent of Scandal and of the dastardly affair of The Pickled Blend. Above all, we will revisit the great detective’s titanic clash with his mortal enemy, Dr Mo Yat Ti, known as the Napoleon of Crime who, in his luxurious den deep in the warren of the meanest streets of Yangon (now the site of a gourmet supermarket), held in his hand the threads of a hundred criminal enterprises. Dr Mo Yat Ti disappeared, at the same time as U Sha Lok, under the bizarre circumstances later related by Dr U Wa Zone in the account he entitled The Great Bell of Magwe, in which he relates how U Sha Lok thwarted an attempt by his foe to purloin with the famed Dhammazedi Bell.

We therefore invite our readers to peruse these tales below, which will be expanded in weekly installments for their delectation. The exploits of U Sha Lok begin with the first chapter of the narrative entitled A Study in Saffron.