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July 03, 2020

Relooking at our efforts to curb illicit drugs

Myanmar and Thai authorities burned 25 tonnes of confiscated illegal drugs worth upwards of US$ 2 billion on 26 June 2020 to mark International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The de-struction of such a large amount of contraband seems like a great way to commemorate the occasion that falls every 26 June but it also serves as a grim reminder of the rising tide of drugs and organized criminals that keep finding new methods to smuggle illegal drugs.
Myanmar police seized a staggering 193 million methamphetamine tablets, 500kg of crystal meth and 290kg of heroin in a drug bust near northeastern Shan State on 19 May and the UWSA handed over 3.5 million meth pills and a drug courier they arrested to the south of the Wa self-administered zone on the 22nd.
As the illegal drug trade in Myanmar continues to run rampant and taint the youth of the nation, it’s a relief that millions of methamphetamine tablets were seized in these two separate cases within the past week but also a concerning indication of the scale of illegal drug production that continues to operate in the nation.
While authorities are working hard uncovering and arresting drug traffickers, this may not be the only way of eradicating misuse of narcotics. What we need, first of all, is to provide a source of stable income and growth to the people residing in regions with the highest cases of illegal drugs. In this day and age, it might be effective for the government to promote and fund local SMEs in those regions rather than directly creating jobs in industries limited to the civil service. Second, educating the youths of today can go a long way in reducing and potentially eliminating drug abuse. Young people aware of the possibility of a bright future will be less likely to throw it away by misusing drugs. Of course, that needs to be complemented with a strong education system and economy that will reward their hard work in the long run. Otherwise, they would see no reason to obey the law or keep away from harmful drug habits.
Which brings us to the third point; the need for better law enforcement. Even with all the proper laws, symbiotic economy and proper education a nation can provide, there may well be people who will produce narcotics for a pretty penny and consequently tempt members of the public into purchasing them for relief, and eventually dependence.
Granted, Myanmar is still in the early stages of a fledgeling democracy, her legislators have made numerous amendments and additions to strengthen the legal backbone for enforcing anti-narcotic measures. The police force and the Tatmadaw are doing their best to address the proliferation of illegal drugs across the nation, but there must still be a corrupt few in power that impedes the administration of the law. Without the right people in the position to guide public participation in the fight against drugs, and without the security of a stable livelihood and achievable promise for a better future, the war on drugs in Myanmar could drag on for much longer than it already has.

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