Saturday, 19 January 2019

Narcotics from the Sea

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  • TEMPO/Imam Sukamto

    TEMPO/Imam Sukamto

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The massive amount of crystal meth locally known a sabu-smuggled via sea in the past few months should have set off very loud alarm bells for us. It is past time our maritime patrol system is overhauled to contain surging shipments. All relevant parties must move swiftly to cut drug supplies into the country, and prevent Indonesia from becoming the largest drug market in Asia. 

    The national police, the customs directorate as well as the Indonesian navy should be lauded for the seizure of two Taiwanese-flagged fishing boats last month. The two raids, which took place only two weeks apart, managed to foil huge shipments of crystal meth-2.6 tons in total. One can only imagine the damage they could have done if they were passed through undetected. 

    But, unfortunately, the foiled contraband was only the tip of the gigantic iceberg, and this is extremely worrying. National Narcotics Agency (BNN) Chief, Comsr. Gen. Budi Waseso, who retired last week, said the smuggling attempts that were thwarted so far made up only 20 percent of the total shipment to Indonesia. In other words, our law enforcement apparatus is too overwhelmed by increasing shipments via the new route.

    The government, therefore, must urgently upgrade the capacity of the BNN, national police, customs and the navy to stop Indonesia from becoming a favorite destination for international drug syndicates. With the 99,000 kilometer-long shoreline and hundreds of seaports scattered over many islands, Indonesia offers an easy access for drug smugglers from across the globe. 

    Meanwhile, it must be acknowledged that there is also a massive increase in demand for drugs in the country. According to BNN data, the number of drug users and addicts is now close to six million, the highest in Asia, requiring 200 to 250 tons of drugs per year. 

    However, Indonesia does not necessarily need to resort to extreme measures such as those taken by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte. In contrary, it can show how the war against drugs can be done in the right way. In addition to relentlessly curbing drug smuggling, rehabilitation programs for addicts should be intensified. Those who recover from addiction can act as anti-drug campaign ambassadors. Such integrated efforts are far more effective than a shoot-on-sight order on drug dealers which clearly violates human rights. 

    Safeguarding our seas from no less than 72 international drug networks supplying drugs to the country is no small task, particularly because shipments come from various sources, from China to the US. President Joko Widodo must give direct orders so that this matter receives the highest priority and the required budget. Moreover, cross-country law enforcement coordination with pertinent countries via intelligence sharing and joint operations need to be boosted to combat transnational crimes such as this. 

    The alarming situation calls for an all-out effort to protect Indonesia from drug smuggling rings-a new breed of pirates in our seas. 

    Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine