Wed, 30 Apr 2003

Illegal drugs reach established community, minister says

Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia's role in drug trafficking has increased significantly in recent years as it has not only become a transit port but also a major producer.

The death sentence handed down to businessman Ang Kiem Soei, who owned a large factory producing ecstasy for worldwide consumption, made the nation aware of the fact that illegal drugs were not so distant.

It is alarming as illegal drugs have nowadays reached the established community, restricting the nation's development and limiting the number of qualified human resources, manpower and transmigration minister Jacob Nuwa Wea said here on Tuesday.

"Illegal drugs have directly endangered the productivity of the nation as more workers and professionals consume them," he said during a briefing on creating a drug-free working environment.

The briefing was organized by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) on Tuesday involving some 297 participants from about 40 companies. The meeting was aimed at urging each individual to become aware of the use of illegal drugs in their work community.

According to data issued by BNN about 80 percent of drug users in the country are in their productive years of between 20 and 45.

Some 85 percent of them hold permanent jobs including some who are top executives.

This has affected the nation's productivity as work related dangers have increased three to four fold, the data said.

Drugs have become more commonplace and popular among professionals, who consume various drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, heroine, marijuana and shabu-shabu (crystal amphetamine).

BNN chairman Gen. Da'i Bachtiar, who is also the National Police chief, said on Tuesday that drugs, which were a worldwide concern, "had infiltrated our society, restricting the nation's potential to further develop".

He said the use of illegal drugs by established professionals has retarded the nation's economic growth and productivity.

"It can impair human resources and threaten political instability," he said.

There were some 3,751 drug related cases in 2002, showing an increase of around 3.7 percent from the previous year.

"We have come to the conclusion that fighting drug trafficking is mainly about how to limit demand and supply.

"I propose a 'prevention is better than cure' slogan for our campaign against drugs," Da'i said.

He explained that the police had planned to implement several measures such as imposing more strict punishment to prevent production, trafficking and drug abuse.