|Saturday, 15 February 2003|
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Hard truths on drugs
The virtues of eternal vigilance are being amply manifested, we are told, in the area of hard drug detection and control. Yesterday, for instance, a news report we frontpaged indicated that increased and consistent surveillance at airports and on the high seas by the Lankan authorities, has helped reduce narcotics trafficking into the country.
The report explained that heightened surveillance at the Bandaranaike International Airport by the Customs Narcotics Division and the Police Narcotics Bureau had played a principal role in curbing the inflow of hard drugs, such as heroin, which, over the years, has proved to be a slow, lethal and pervasive killer, particularly among our youths.
All this is encouraging news because it proves that the blight of hard drug consumption could be brought under control, if our law enforcers put their hearts and minds into their jobs and work with dedication and conscientiousness. It also establishes that hard drug elimination is not beyond our capabilities.
However, it is vitally important that we do not allow ourselves to be lulled into a sense of complacency by these successes. Hard drug peddling is almost global in its spread and is a major money-spinner both in the so-called First and Third Worlds.
Very powerful and influential groups and individuals are believed to be the kingpins in the trafficking of hard drugs, both locally and abroad. As long as these factors are in place, eliminating the drug scourge wouldn't prove easy. Nevertheless, the initiation of effective methods of control and the firm enforcement of the law could prove beneficial and the proof of this are the recent successes in the battle against drugs.
While we hope that the current level of vigilance would not only be sustained but also improved, the fact should not be overlooked that it is also increasing permissiveness and growing indiscipline among particularly our youths, which keep the vicious talons of the drug trade in high working order. The hard truths need to be recognized. If there is a considerable supply of drugs on the local scene, it is because the demand for it is high. Hard drug addiction, in other words, is high. Hence the continuing supply.
If one were to come to grips with the basics, therefore, the demand for drugs needs to be eliminated if the drug menace is to be curbed. There is, therefore, no ducking the fact that promiscuity and permissiveness in society needs to be curbed first for the elimination of the demand for drugs.
This would entail closer supervision of children and youths by parents and elders. Besides, there needs to be a resurgence of family values, such as love and companionship, if the young in particular are not to seek refuge in the transient yet suicidal thrills of hard drugs. These are issues for the whole of society - particularly parents, elders and religious and educational institutions - which have not been sufficiently addressed so far.
As for the State, twenty or more years of heady, inebriating consumerism needs to convince it of the need to take a hard look at its development model. The liberalised economy, for instance, should be moulded carefully to meet our needs. Paths to prosperity should be used selectively, lest we venture where angels fear to tread.
Sri Lanka also needs be strengthen ties with her neighbouring states in particular to ensure that the surrounding seas are not used by drug traffickers, who could be expected to be devious and dangerously inventive. Joint law and order measures are, therefore, in order.
However, the law also needs to be enforced fearlessly and impartially. The need is great to net the big sharks in the drug trade rather than capture the small fry.
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