| Azlan Othman |
THE drugs situation in the country is under control although there are reports of the Sultanate being used as a transit point in the smuggling of drugs that have been intercepted by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), said the Assistant Director (Drug Prevention Education) of the NCB.
The drugs were not meant for the Brunei market but for other countries in the region, Awg Osmawi bin Hj Osman said when asked on the second day of the Social Issues Seminar at The Centrepoint Hotel, Gadong yesterday organised by the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) Executive Council and coordinated by Academy of Brunei Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
Brunei has been used by international syndicates as a transit point as it lies in the international route from Golden Triangle nations to other countries in the region. It also shares its borders with other Asean countries.
“We can’t be complacent and remain in the comfort zone” although the situation is under control here, he said.
Speaking on the Asean initiative to go drug-free by the end of this year, Awg Osmawi said the move was to show how far each country in this region has gone to eradicate drugs.
Local research has revealed that factors such as curiosity, pleasure, mental stress, peer influence and family background were the main reasons for a person to take drugs.
Brunei has allocated a big budget to wipe out drug trafficking as well as prevention activities and rehabilitation. International drug syndicates that continue to lure Bruneians to become drug mules remain a challenge, Awg Osmawi said.
The emergence of new synthetic drugs that are not in the controlled drugs list and more sophisticated modus operandi are making it difficult to eradicate the scourge.
Awg Osmawi said based on statistics of arrests in 2013, there was an increase of 60 per cent compared to the year before. In 2013, NCB arrested 679 people for drug-related cases, 84 per cent of which were men, 83 per cent Bruneians and Malays and 58 per cent jobless.
Methylamphetamine or Syabu constituted the biggest chunk of seizures in the country at more than 90 per cent, followed by cannabis. Drugs like ketamine and Erimin 5 were the other drugs confiscated in 2013.
Awg Osmawi said awareness programmes remained the most effective way in the prevention against drug abuse. “Prevention is a million times better than cure and it should start at home. Parents play a crucial role in preventing their children from drug abuse.”
Although only 0.1 per cent out of Brunei’s population of 416,000 are involved in drug abuse, it would still threaten the national security and harmony, if left unchecked.