The war on drugs is lost – what next?
REFERRING to Mangai Balasegaram’s column, “We’ve lost the war already” (Human Writes, Oct 28; online at tinyurl.com/star2drug-war), I would like to comment:
The writer suggests that drugs should be decriminalised; she has also written against the death penalty for drug offenders in her previous columns. In the Oct 28 column, Balasegaram says that the global supply of drugs has not been reduced; the cultivation, illegal trafficking, and consumption of drugs are at their highest now. So what is Malaysia going to do about this? Our Government has to act seriously to eradicate this drug menace!
I often see in newspapers how our police force has been constantly arresting illegal manufacturers of Eramin pills, meth, ketamine, and products using ketum leaves. Besides locals, foreigners are involved in these businesses too. From what I understand from these reports, local demand is very high, adding to the lucrative export market for these drugs. Malaysia also acts as a transit point for the drug trafficking trade, as Marina Mahathir pointed out in her column (“It’s easy to do the right thing”, Musings, Oct 28; online at tinyurl.com/ star-marina).
As Marina wrote in her column, despite the death penalty, “The money is too big to not take the risk”. With huge amounts of money involved, it is very likely that the drug business will continue and flourish – without fear. With the Government about to abolish the death penalty, should we assume that the drug trade will be unstoppable? We all know that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s style of brutally killing drug suspects is too cruel, so what options do we have?
I used to see drug addicts in hospitals where they would come to collect doses of methadone, the synthetic drug that is used as a substitute in the treatment of morphine and heroin addiction. I used to visit the psychiatric department for business matters, and I noticed this. But most addicts are not taking the methadone, I assume.
In Kuala Lumpur I see many thin, weak-looking and dirtily-clad people wandering the streets – I think these are drug users.
With free food provided by the charity food kitchens and easily available places for sleeping (five-foot ways, at bus stands, overhead pedestrian walkways, under bridges, etc), these drug addicts are not moving out of the streets and I think they really pose a danger to the public.
The police, welfare department officials, City Hall officers, NGOs – are these people all simply not bothered about this predicament? And yet, despite this sad state of affairs, we are boasting about achieving developed nation status by 2020.
The new Government that was voted in in May has to act on this matter – urgently, more urgently than acting on the 1MDB case of fnancial corruption. The drug issue involves the lives of the people – it kills! I would like suggest a few measures:
> Give harsher sentences to the drug traffickers and manufacturers (drug lords).
> Destroy all ketum planting areas.
> Check the Immigration and Customs points of entry carefully for smuggling – and the corruption of drugs.
> Educate people about the hazards of drugs, from primary to tertiary level, through the mass media and electronic media.
> Rehabilitate drug addicts.
> Consider carefully whether we should decriminalise drugs?
> Check and control the hospitals for any drug “leakage” by doctors and staff.
> Check all the local pharmacies for any abuse or storage of illegal drugs or prescriptions.
> Why are these modern illegal drugs so easily available? Study this matter.
Most importantly,the Government must involve ALL stakeholders – the experts,the press, the medical experts, the police, Customs, Immigration, human rights groups, etc – to study this problem. Discuss it, research and make a good policy – not a flipflop one! The Government must be COMMITTED to solving this drug problem.
Filipinos protesting the brutal war on drugs waged by Duterte that has seen hundreds being killed. — NEON TOMMY/ Visual Hunt