President Calls for Nationwide Anti-drug Groups to Include Civilians, Civil Society

By Htun Htun 1 June 2018

YANGON — Myanmar’s President U Win Myint has instructed that interested civilians and civil society groups be included in forming anti-drug groups across the country.

In meeting with Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, home affairs minister and chairman of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, President U Win Myint on Thursday urged the formation of anti-drug committees at the township, district, regional and state levels comprised of regional authorities, civil society and civilians.

“Meth tablets are readily available across the country. The Home Affairs Ministry alone can’t control this. It calls for effective cooperation from civil society organizations and locals,” deputy minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Soe Aung, who was present at the meeting, told The Irrawaddy.

The president also called for the formation of an anti-drug task force that works under the direct command of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, along with suitable penalties for drug production, distribution and dealing.

He also spoke of the need to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs, the availability of medical treatment and the rehabilitation of drug users.

In February, the Myanmar government and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) launched a new national drug control policy, which aims to contribute to safe, secure and healthy communities through a policy that addresses all aspects of the drug problem.

In his address at the launch of the new drug control policy, Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe acknowledged that “our past approach was very focused on supply reduction and less on other issues, and as a result, it did not achieve everything we had planned. By working with the UNODC and adopting UN best practices, we believe we will have much better results for the people and the country.”

In the third week of May, the UNODC said that illicit drug production rages on in conflict-torn regions in Myanmar, with supplies being smuggled into nearby countries but also reaching as far as Australia.

Malaysian authorities reported their largest ever seizure of crystal methamphetamine, nearly 1.2 tons of the drug, disguised as tea in a shipment from Myanmar on May 22.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.