It’s everyone’s problem

Final of a four-part special series on the drug scourge

 Combating drugs needs a collective effort, says Puspen volunteer

KUCHING: Lee Chia Soon, a volunteer with the Kuching National Anti-Drugs Agency (AADK), helps out with the organising of programmes for drug addicts.

His dream of creating an anti-drugs video clip was achieved and launched two months ago with the cooperation from AADK.

With a group of his fellow volunteers, they came up with the second clip recently.

The clip titled ‘Tong Gas” (gas cylinder) was a cynical look at missing gas cylinders in villages, a common occurrence.

Gas cylinders were mostly stolen by drug addicts to feed their habit. The video encourages parents to report their children suspected of being drug addicts, to help them.

In one month, it has obtained 70,000 hits and Lee said more parents were reaching out to the authorities for help.

Lee added that almost everyone had a mobile phone and instead of talking to 200 people in the village, it was best to reach out to all through digital media.

“We can easily reach 5,000 people a day through digital media.”

Lee, who has too often seen the negative impact of drugs, said drugs were easily available in many villages.

“It is a fact and we must not hide it. Due to the peddlers who are mostly thugs, many people dare not report them.”

“Maybe the kampung community leaders can do something, by working with the authorities concerned. However, it is best that parents themselves help their children by reporting them as soon as they know they are on drugs. A new drug addict can kick his habit easier than one who has been hooked on drugs for years,” he said.

Lee is also worried about how cheap drugs are now. “I know of young girls on drugs, and to feed their addiction, they sell their bodies to get cash. There is no ending to the horrors of drug addiction.”

His interest in helping out came about following a personal experience where he helped a neighbour kick the habit several years ago. He is so glad to see the youth, who was shunned by other neighbours, studying in college today, pursing his dreams.

From then on, Lee wanted to ‘save’ more children – not out of popularity but how to solve a complex problem such as drug addicts affecting the community.

His chance came one day while working, he met a staff member from the Narcotics Addiction Rehabilitation Centre (Puspen). Lee asked if he could help out and be a volunteer.

“I believe that we can combat drugs if we work towards a collective way to solve it. We can do it with the cooperation of police, AADK, education department, local councils, NGOs, religious bodies and community leaders.

“The enforcement must be stronger and more aggressive. If all of us work towards that common goal with one mind, we can do it,” he said optimistically.

Lee (right) with a Puspen staff showing the vegetables planted by inmates at Kuching Puspen.