| Azlan Othman |
BRAIN damage, depression, heart palpitations, and erosion to the tooth enamel.
These are but a few of the many harmful effects of syabu use. Syabu, the local term for methamphetamine, is commonly consumed by drug addicts in the country.
Speaking at an educational briefing on drugs prevention for 35 graduates from local and overseas higher institutions currently taking part in the week-long village civic course held at the multipurpose hall of the Sungai Kebun Sports Complex, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Officer Mohd Saiful Azli bin Abdullah explained that syabu is very dangerous as the ingredients used in its production include cough medicine, liquid used to clean drains and battery acid.
He highlighted the disturbing lengths people go to procuring the addictive stimulant.
“Some people were lured by as little as RM50 to smuggle syabu into the country,” Mohd Saiful Azli said, referring to a case that happened in the past at the Sungai Tujoh checkpoint in Kuala Belait.
“There have been cases where family members even willingly surrendered their children under the influence of drugs to the NCB, like a case involving a person who caused a ruckus at a religious gathering organised by the family,” he added.
“People intoxicated with syabu are usually hyperactive and talk nonsense. There was even a case in which a person under the influence of the drug was seen cutting grass in the wee hours of the morning and disturbing the neighbours.”
He noted that to avoid detection by the authorities, drug addicts use local terms such as nasi katok, Ajinomoto, crystal or lauk putih (white fish) to describe syabu or methamphetamines.
Trafficking more than 50 grammes of syabu carries the death penalty in Brunei.
Mohd Saiful Azli mentioned another drug – ganja, or marijuana – which influences part of the brain responsible for memory, learning and response. “The damage caused by using ganja can last several days, several months and even years after users stop taking it,” he said.
He also highlighted the danger of ecstasy pills or “crazy horse” pills commonly used in pubs and the penalties for trafficking these drugs (trafficking more than 15 grammes of ecstasy carries the death penalty).
He noted as well the dangers of inhalant abuse, citing the example of a case where a child as young as nine using such inhalants after being influenced by his peers.
“The oldest ever recorded individual caught using inhalants was around 60 years old, back in the 1990s. Inhalants can cause hallucinations, dizziness, unstable emotions and breathing difficulties,” Mohd Saiful Azli said.
He also put under the spotlight international drug syndicates exploiting Bruneians in the drug trade.
“These syndicates make use of Bruneians as drug mules – in the past we had a case where two males and three females were caught and detained in China, Chile and Australia,” he said.
“Many locals have been saved from being exploited as drug mules to go to China, Australia, Spain and Japan.”
He highlighted that many Malays are influenced by these sort of syndicates and lured to work overseas as models with lucrative salaries. “The [syndicates’ modus operandi] is to get Bruneians to meet the potential drug mules overseas,” Mohd Saiful Azli said.
“Bruneians should be wary when asked to carry goods at the airport, as this is one of the tactics they use. They should also be cautious about bogus lottery or ‘jackpot bonanzas’ supposedly worth thousands of dollars, which is also another [of the syndicates’] tactic.”
The postgraduate Village Civic Program-me is being run by the Information Department of the Prime Minister’s Office through the Nationhood and Community Division from January 27 till February 1.
The course was initiated way back in 1976 and is aimed at not only overseas graduates, but also graduates from local institutions who are yet to secure employment or keen to go into entrepreneurship.