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Yingluck's drive to 'reduce drugs scourge by 80%'

Sep 11. 2011
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By Samascha Hunsara
The Nation

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Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday launched a comprehensive campaign against the drug scourge called the Force of the Land, aiming to reduce the problem by 80 per cent within a year by getting state agencies to work together systematically.

Yingluck said statistics showed that the country had 490,000 illegal drug users in 2007 and their population had tripled within four years. Drug abuse has spread to 60,000 of the country's 80,000 villages.

The sustained anti-narcotics drive also aims to treat or rehabilitate over 400,000 drug abusers.

The Yingluck government would adopt the six-point anti-drug agenda of her brother Thaksin's administration:

ท Zoning the country to get officials to focus on their responsible areas.

ท Assigning officials to have joint responsibility.

ท Centralising information about traders and drug-risk groups at the district and provincial level to the country level.

ท Identifying 300,000 drug abusers who can be rehabilitated.

ท Setting up a mechanism for the anti-drug command centre to give orders at the regional level.

ท Putting authorities in charge of each zone and holding them accountable for their work.

Other measures include strengthening local communities to prevent drug abuse, promoting the sufficiency economy philosophy and supporting the Mother of the Land Fund.

Over 400,000 drug abusers will undergo a drug rehabilitation programme at Wiwat Polamuang, a drug-rehabilitation facility run by the Army, Defence Ministry and Public Health Ministry.

To prevent more drug addiction, sports and recreation centres will be provided for 60,000 communities.

Drug traders will face tough action under the strict and fair application of the rule of law.

Neighbouring countries will be asked to help suppress drug smuggling on the borders.

Officials must not get involved in the drug trade, while their superiors and other authorities must map out preventive measures to stamp out drug smuggling.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, director of the National Anti-Drug Command Centre under the Force of the Land, said the government would seal the border at Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai, where 70 per cent of the domestic supply is smuggled in. The number of checkpoints will be tripled.

A Force of the Land centre will be established in every village. Governors will be responsible for tackling drug abuse in their provinces.

Drug convicts will be allowed to undergo rehabilitation at Wiwat Polamuang School.

Chalerm said an anti-drug crusade under his supervision would not have any "silencing" of drug dealers.

"We will use the soft approach but that doesn't mean I'm going to prostrate myself before police to ask them to arrest drug traders. We will use both suppression and seizures of assets of drug traders,'' he said.

Acting National Police chief Priewpan Damapong vowed to reduce the drug trade within four months and strictly implement anti-drug measures as issued by the government.

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