Sun, 13 Aug 2000

Sultan shows royal concern in antidrug campaign

By R. Agus Bakti

YOGYAKARTA (JP): "Excuse me, may I put an antinarcotics sticker on your car? Where would be the best spot for it?"

The speaker was no ordinary antidrug campaigner. Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, the hereditary ruler of Yogyakarta and also its governor, took part in an event held to mark a proclamation by the group Antidrugs Yogyakarta (YAM) two weeks ago.

With the driver's approval, a sticker reading "Prestige, Yes, Narcotics, No" was placed on the front windshield of the BMW. It was the first car to receive the sticker in the campaign along Jl. Malioboro.

The sultan's involvement showed his concern for the future of the younger generation, particularly with the spread of drugs. They have already made their way into schools, and stories about the arrest of dealers and users fill the media almost daily.

In a speech before the provincial legislature, the sultan said people should realize that the prevalence of drugs would soar when a country was in crisis.

"Thus if we proclaim a war against drugs, it's not just a diversion. It's not just because we recently marked World Antidrugs Day."

He said people were so wrapped up in the problems of the country that they overlooked the fate of the younger generation.

Scientific advances over time are inevitably leading to an increasing array of narcotics. The use of illegal substances not only destroys the health of users, but also causes more dangerous social ramifications.

Experts warn that in the fight against drugs, if we do not have a collective recognition of the dangers of drug use and are lax in handling offenders, it is not unthinkable that the country will have a lost generation of young people.

YAM chief H. GBPH Yudhaningrat said there were 61 community groups in Yogyakarta which were concerned about the dangers of illicit drugs.

"What makes me proudest is the groups are handled by young people who care about prevention and also the rehabilitation of drug users."

He said several drug cases in Yogyakarta indicated there was already physical and mental harm to the younger generation.

The sultan has issued a gubernatorial instruction and a decree to support the antidrug campaign. Gubernatorial Instruction No. 1/2000 concerns gambling, alcoholic beverages and narcotics. Gubernatorial Decree No. 19/2000 involves the establishment of an illegal substances coordinating board for Yogyakarta.

They are intended as both preventive and curative approaches, and to inform the public of the great danger of addictive substances.

The sultan said it was not a problem of the substance of laws on drugs, but the consistency of their implementation.

"We are weak in law enforcement. We are fond of making decrees, we even specialize in doing it, but a lot of the regulations made by the House of Representatives are only paper tigers."

He said he had great respect for the non-governmental organizations and religious groups which were proceeding with their vision and mission to safeguard the future of the young. He said their concrete efforts were equal to movements for democracy and the upholding of human rights.

"But most of them deal with victims, whereas it is more important for prevention before drugs swallow their victims," he said.

He added that the world of drugs, synonymous with violence and money, was also used for political means, especially outside of Indonesia.

Faustinus Mudjiyono of YAM said it was not only important to stamp out drugs, but the use of a respected figure like the sultan could be availed of as an example in antidrug campaigns.

"Yogyakarta's drive led by Sri Sultan could be followed in other areas. Figures who are looked up to by the people should be involved, such as the clergy, ulemas. The dangers of drugs have been proven," said the civil servant from Kulonporgo, Yogyakarta.

The sultan appealed to the people to have the courage to live their lives by the words of the sticker -- prestige, yes, drugs, no. He reminded them that Yogyakarta was famed as a city of tourism, culture and study, an image which should not be destroyed by the drug menace.