THE OFFICE of the Narcotics Control Board, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) recently held a joint press conference to report on the progress made in the fight against drugs last year.
ONCB deputy secretary-general Ratchaneekorn Sornsiri, UNODC regional representative in Southeast Asia and Pacific Jeremy Douglas and INCB representative Dr Wiroj Soomyai chaired the conference.
The report’s main points were:
l Myanmar and Afghanistan remain the world’s top heroin producers;
l Southeast Asia is the second-largest producer of marijuana and opium in the world;
l Southeast Asia is a growing market for amphetamine-type stimulants, especially methamphetamine;
l The Golden Triangle is the geographic centre of the Greater Mekong Sub-region and international drug rings will benefit from integration of Southeast Asian nations.
The annual INCB report unveiled at the conference showed that East and Southeast Asia had the highest level of injected drug abuse, accounting for 27 per cent of injected drug users in the world. In the report, INCB also voiced concern about the production and rising demand for heroin in Southeast Asia, as well as amphetamine-type stimulants becoming the second-most abused drug in the region.
Figures in the report also showed that opium users in China had risen from 1.2 million in 2010 to 1.3 million the following year.
Drug abuse and trafficking is becoming worse now because traffickers can easily hoodwink the law by using advanced technology for shipment and production, plus they have managed to infiltrate nearly all circles of society, especially politics.
This is quite worrying because drug abuse is a serious social problem. In fact, there have even been reports of kindergartners using drugs.
Many countries have clear operations for suppressing drug use and trade, but Thailand has a marked lack of this because it has politicians who have allegedly been abusing their posts to reap personal benefits from trade in drugs, contraband and war weapons.
It is quite depressing that people with records of underground business can enter politics and be welcomed by society. There are no punitive measures in place to control these politicians, and some of them can even use their connections to whitewash cases and continue returning to the fold with impunity.
In fact, this has happened so many times, that a majority of Thai citizens have started believing that they can get away with anything. Suspects trying to bribe their way out of jail and punishment are a common sight nowadays.
Maybe the time has come for people to step back and wonder if people with questionable backgrounds should really be allowed to have a hand in running the country. Perhaps, if society continues pushing for reform and tries to keep people with grey backgrounds out of politics, the country may be able to pull itself out of the drug problem.
Because if no action is taken soon, things will only worsen and everybody will be affected – that’s when the country will truly be in upheaval.