Mon, 07 Feb 2000

Student drug users need empathy not media attention: UI rector

JAKARTA (JP): University of Indonesia (UI) rector Asman Boedisantoso called on the Indonesian press over the weekend not to give too much coverage to students involved in drug abuse cases.

"The media have exaggerated and repeatedly published stories on alleged drug abuses by students," Asman told reporters on the sidelines of a graduation ceremony for UI's 927 graduate students on Saturday.

He said the press should also publish stories on preventive and rehabilitative measures provided by the government and private institutions.

Asman also called on the public to show their understanding of the real conditions of student users, not merely put the blame on them.

"We have to understand their condition and provide them with guidance. We should not corner them," he said.

Asman said the public and related parties should concentrate on how to implement preventive measures to protect the younger generations from drug abuses, and ensure rehabilitation programs for those who were addicted.

The rector said students became involved in drugs mainly because of influences from a poor environment. "Sometimes because they get trapped in an unfavorable situation, in which they were forced to do so by peers."

He praised the national police for their recent successful operations in netting dug traffickers.

"The anti-narcotic police force have been serious in eliminating drug trafficking in the country," he said.

However, he called on the police to intensify the operations to create a drug-free environment in the country.

"Intensified operations are needed to deter those involved in drug trafficking," he said.

There have been mounting pressures on law enforcement officials to curb the drug trafficking as they eventually could lead to wider youth involvement in drug abuse.

State Minister of Women Affairs, Khofifah Indar Parawansa said last December that at least one million of Indonesian youths, aged between 15 and 23 years old, are victims of drug abuse.

Tuition fee

Commenting on the UI students' demand that tuition fee be reduced to ensure the continuation of their education, Asman said the university allocated Rp 3 billion (US$428,571) to help finance the poor students for this year's school calendar.

He said the figure represented a 30 percent increase over last year's allocation of Rp 2.3 billion.

Asman said the program would help cover the students' expenses -- tuition fee, living cost, thesis preparation cost and side jobs allowance. (06)