Tue, 28 Jan 2003

'Evidence usually resold by police'

The antidrug campaign seems to be getting more intensive support from the police as drug abuse problems become more serious. There are now an estimated four million drug addicts nationwide and some Rp 800 billion is spent daily just on drugs. The Jakarta Post talked to several city residents about the issue and their response to the police attempts.

Syifa, 21, is a student at a private university in South Jakarta, majoring in tourism. She lives in Tebet, South Jakarta, with her family:

I reckon that in my campus, there used to be a lot of drug users and traffickers who operated freely. They carried out their transactions openly.

I wonder why there are only a few of them left now in my campus. They probably operate less openly these days because I rarely see them around the campus.

I used to take drugs too, but was not addicted to them -- no way! But honestly, many of my relatives still take drugs. One even died from an overdose.

I guess the alarming drug problems are getting more acute here. We have to be careful when socializing with friends -- choosing the wrong people might put you in trouble for good.

I agree with the intensive crackdown by the police. I just hope it's genuine. At least the police seem to be intent on fighting drug dealers and abusers.

But I don't agree that traffickers should be sentenced to death. It's better to give them a maximum jail term. Matters of life and death are in God's hands, right?

Ale (not his real name), 29, works for a private company in West Jakarta. He lives in Srengseng, West Jakarta, with his wife and son:

I'm not sure an intensive crackdown on drug problems will succeed because the confiscated evidence is usually resold by the police.

I have a friend whose father was a high-ranking police officer and he used to be a drug addict. I used to ask him (the friend) for marijuana for myself.

He gave me a big box of marijuana and frankly told me it was confiscated crime evidence. Based on this, I think it's quite normal for me to doubt police commitment to combat the alarming drug problem, particularly in Jakarta.

I used to be addicted to marijuana, too. From the time that I was in senior high school until university I used a lot of marijuana. I used it a lot when preparing for final exams. I liked using it because I was able to pass several tests with B grades.

But that was all about three years ago. Now I've quit drugs. Thank God I never used any other drugs but marijuana.

Tri (not his real name), 56, is retired from the Navy and lives at Patal Senayan, Central Jakarta, with his wife and five children:

I think drug problems have been so alarming that all elements of society should work hand in hand with the police to combat them.

Unfortunately, law enforcers disappoint many times the people who hope for justice. We can see how law enforcers are involved in unscrupulous deals to release drug dealers from detention or prison.

I reckon that many drug transactions go on around here. I wouldn't deny either that there must be some addicts here too.

Every day I see plainclothes policemen hanging around here monitoring their targets. I know them from the way they behave. But all this is to no avail without serious measures and a good attitude from them.

I once drove them away from here because I was sick of seeing corrupt police who received bribes from such unlawful business.

But after that, I tried to approach abusers and traffickers to warn them not to operate here. Up until now, the personal approach has worked better than an oppressive one.

I'm not saying that there are no more drug abusers here, but, at least, it seems to have worked. Traffickers no longer operate near here. I also try to persuade abusers to kick such a bad habit.

-- Leo Wahyudi S