drug world entered Lanka with open economy
By Sydney Knight
Thanks to the media, we were given a ball by ball
commentary on what happened at Welikada recently.
How did the prisoners get ready to welcome the
police in the manner that they did?
Isn’t it true that somebody made them prepare for
this search operation?
Before we get to the subject of the menace of drugs
in our country, the minister and all those in high
places as regards the Welikada Prison must do a
search operation of their work as those responsible
for the prisoners at Welikada.
For years, Sri Lanka was focussing on the war in
the North and East and, therefore, put under the
carpet live issues like the prisoners in our country
and the menace of drugs. Now that the military part
of the war is behind us, we, the people of Sri Lanka
must address these issues.
I shall, in this article, leave it to the
authorities to handle and manage the matter of our
prisons and focus on the menace of drugs in our
I for one will blame the 1977 government for the
manner in which the problem of drugs has become a
menace in our land today.
In 1977, we began the economic policy called the
I am a product of the University of Peradeniya where
we have a plaque which states “more open than
Sadly, the 1977 government opened the economy in our
country “more open than usual”.
What does this mean? Not only did we export and
import our needs and our products but also the
menace of drugs. Of course, we Sri Lankans are not
angels and archangels. Some in our country were used
to drugs like ganja.
With the open economy, the drug world entered Sri
Lanka. ‘Filthy Lucre’ became the name of the game.
Hence, the place of money in our economy and in our
With the interest of making money, the peddlers of
drugs did everything possible to reach the untouched
in the areas of drugs.
Those of us, who have been trained to handle all
these in some way, know that before one becomes
addicted to handle drugs one gets used to tobacco
and liquor and perhaps ganja.
What is the outcome? The peddlers of drugs are in
the vicinity of our schools. They do their utmost to
capture innocent students and initiate the bad
It is no secret that our students are getting
addicted to drugs.
In our society, some people, who are addicted to
drugs become thieves, beggars and borrowers of
Many young lives are being destroyed; homes broken
and families disrupted.
Some well-dressed young people are on the streets
trying to get some money pretending to be somebody
and sadly telling us the same story everyday.
I for one am glad that the police are at last
fighting this battle of the menace of drugs in our
It was only a few years ago that a leading judge in
our country was murdered by a rich man who became
rich by dealing in the business of drugs.
Sometimes, I wonder where all those who were
shouting from the house tops about the menace of
Prabhakaran and the LTTE are doing about this live
problem in our land. What then is the answer to the
This problem is ours and, therefore, the solution is
ours. Of course, the hard drugs come from outside.
People and organisations make money as did the LTTE
on the sale of drugs.
It is the parent in every home in this land, every
place of education in our country and every place of
worship that must address this issue.
All our homes are not happy places.
There are cases of broken relationships and some
parents are either not with their spouses and
children or away from the home trying to make money.
Our schools have ceased to be places of learning and
Our places of worship have become places that have
forgotten the teaching of their founders.
It is in this context that the work of the police
must be stated.
As a person who has been trained to handle this
problem, we were taught that when a person addicted
to drugs has been helped he/she must get back to a
place where he or she will be cared for and looked
after. Sadly, all our homes, places of learning and
places of worship do not fit this requirement.
Therefore, there has to be a process of
self-examination in our homes, places of learning
and places of worship.
Linked to the drug menace is the issue of sex
workers in our midst.
Poverty is supposed to be the cause for these
workers indulging in the world’s oldest profession.
We are sadly a sick society using money to purchase
drugs and sex.
We need healing.
This, to my mind, can only come if today’s Sri Lanka
will take seriously the teachings of the founders of
the four world religions in our midst.
It was Mother Teresa of Calcutta who once said, “If
a Buddhist is a better Buddhist, if a Hindu a better
Hindu, if a follower of Islam can be a better
follower and a follower of Christ a better follower,
this world will be a better place”.
Therefore, to my mind, the solution can be learned
from the four main religions of our land.
As I write this piece, I am aware that in the midst
of this tragedy, where drugs and sex are concerned,
there are persons in our land who are addressing
We need to support them.
Law and order can only help but the deep rooted
problem must be focussed and addressed. Over to all
stimulant drugs ‘growing threat in Asia’
VIENNA (AFP) - Synthetic stimulant drugs are
replacing traditional plant-based narcotics such as
heroin and opium across Asia, a UN report has
Amphetamine-type stimulants were widely used in East
and South-East Asia in 2009 and were being produced
in almost every country in the region, the report
said -- with methamphetamine, known as meth,
The drugs are a “critical emerging threat to the
region”, said the report released by the United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Myanmar is the region’s main source of
methamphetamines, with clandestine laboratories
operating in its troubled eastern border regions
using materials smuggled from China and Thailand,
the report said.
But international organised crime groups have also
increased their involvement with the regional drugs
Amphetamine-type drugs (ATS) were manufactured in
all but three countries in the region in 2009 and
were in the top three drugs of use in every country.
“The increased manufacture and use of ATS is a
worrying trend and a growing health challenge for
the region,” UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov
“While overall development levels in many countries
are climbing, and the lives of millions are
improving, the spread of ATS use is a sad -- and
unnecessary -- situation and one which must be
tackled with immediate urgency.”
Also on the rise was the use of ketamine, a drug
used in human and veterinary medicine but also used
recreationally as a cheaper alternative to drugs
such as ecstasy.
In 2009, 6.9 tons of ketamine were seized in east
and southeast Asia, up from 6.3 tons the previous
year and about 85 percent of the global total, said
In Hong Kong ketamine had now become the primary
drug of use.
Drug treatment services in many parts of the region
were unable to keep up with the new trend for
synthetic drugs, said the agency.
“Most drug treatment services in the region are
still aimed at users of heroin, opium and cannabis
despite this shift toward ATS use,” said a UNODC
Between 3.4 million and 20.7 million people in the
region had used amphetamines in the past year, said
the report, out of 14 million to 53 million global
International organised crime groups were
increasingly involved with the regional drugs trade,
the report said, especially those from Iran and West
Lab-based drugs, distributed as pills, powder or
crystals, escaped the traditional constraints of
plant-based crops, which are dependent on geography
and climate, said UNODC policy analysis director
Sandeep Chawla in a statement.
“By being able to produce ATS in their basements and
backyards, criminals are presented with new
opportunities which must be denied,” she said.
“This means that there is no long trafficking route
along which law enforcement can intercept the
drugs... ATS thus pose very different challenges for