Seeking Freedom from Drug Scourge
ON THURSDAY, the country will celebrate the 43rd anniversary of its independence.
Being independent from the clutches of foreign powers is, perhaps, one of the most inestimable achievements of any country.
While we may be into our 5th decade of independence, we now come face to face with challenges that threaten our free will.
Though we are no longer subjects of colonial powers, we cannot help but notice the prevailing problem of drug abuse in our society, which is menacing our mental independence.
The drug menace has been around for many years now. Malaysia has one of the sternest laws on drug trafficking in the world today, that have been criticised and viewed by certain quarters as being barbaric.
Despite all the legal provisions in curbing drug trafficking, the drug threat still persists. Drug abuse is still rampant, with the number of drug addicts on the increase.
The Government has spent millions of ringgit to tackle the problem, in particular, in rehabilitating the addicts.
Yet, illegal drugs can still be found on the streets. Otherwise, the number of addicts would not have increased.
While the problem of “conventional” drug abuse is still very much widespread, we have now come face to face with the problem of Ecstasy–the drug abuse of the 21st century.
The recent highlighting of the Ecstasy threat has succeeded in increasing awareness among the public of the danger of this drug.
The media have played a considerable and effective role in helping to curb this problem.
The multilateral action taken by the police, the Road Transport Department, Education Ministry, Health Ministry, political parties and NGOs, is indeed praiseworthy.The MCA which spearheaded the blitz on Ecstasy has taken the bull by the horns. The problem is being tackled at its roots.
The targets are the suppliers of the drug and joints where the drug is easily obtained.
Maybe the problem of conventional drug abuse should be handled the same way.
So far, we have seen that the focus is on rehabilitating the addicts.
No doubt, this is important, but statistics have shown that when reformed addicts return to society, quite a considerable number of them return to their old ways.
Why is this so? Many would probably attribute this to society’s unwillingness to accept reformed addicts.
Generally, employers are reluctant to employ former drug addicts.
This stigma continues to haunt former addicts who would want to begin life anew. As a result, some of them would, more often than not, return to drugs.
The fact that former addicts return to their old habits and that the number of addicts is on the increase only showsthat drugs are easily available on the streets.
So far, the move by the authorities in curbing drug abuse seems to be concentrating on taking the addicts off the streets and rehabilitating them.
This, of course, needs to be done. But something more effective has to be carried out and that is by taking drug dealers off the streets and charging them under the provisions of our laws.
Perhaps it is worthwhile emulating the initiative taken by the MCA in curbing the problem of Ecstasy among youths.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik has been quoted as saying that 90% of the youths who are involved with Ecstasy abuse are Chinese.
Hence, it is only logical that the MCA takes this bold effort in eradicating the problem from the Chinese community.
In the long run, it not only helps the Chinese, but it also helps the other communities. Indeed, much can be learnt from this initiative.
On the other hand, the majority of those addicted to conventional drugs, like heroin, are Malays (read: Muslims).
So far, it appears that efforts taken to curtail drug abuse among Malay youths, in particular, have failed.
Whatever more that is required has to be done with serious, sincere and concerted political will.
Tackling this problem is no light matter, and one should not adhere to the Malay proverb: “Melepaskan batuk di tangga,” meaning not serious in doing things.
As such, a major crackdown on illegal drugs–heroin, cannabis, Ecstasy or whatever they may be–must be undertaken.
This effort must be spearheaded by the relevant authorities, political parties (representing the interest of their communities) and NGOs.
The focal point must be the dealers and suppliers and the areas and locations where drugs are available.
Destroying the sources of the drugs would certainly help in minimising the number of addicts.
The writer is of the opinion that political parties can exert the necessary and much needed political will in tackling this societal menace, as highlighted by the MCA in its efforts to fight the Ecstasy menace.
If political parties can somehow shift their energies from domestic bickering and political polemics towards co-operating in tackling social ills, then the writer is sure many of these problems can indeed be solved.
If the problems that hound the youths are not handled effectively, what does the future hold for Malaysia?
What then is the meaning of independence when society is plagued with problems like drug abuse?
For the sake of the sacrifices made by our forefathers in obtaining independence and for the sake of future generations, let us all work together in tackling the substance that subjugates the minds of the people–drugs.