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Home » » News » APFAD 2015: Asia Pacific urged to maintain firm stance against drugs
Published: 28 Aug 2015 12:32PM
By Denise Lee

       

The National Council Against Drug Abuse urged anti-drug non-governmental organisations and government agencies from the Asia Pacific region to declare their firm stand against drug abuse and trafficking, and resist the global trend of substance legalisation and decriminalisation on 27 August 2015, at the inaugural Asia-Pacific Forum Against Drugs 2015.

 Close to 200 participants from 18 countries in the Asia Pacific region gathered for Singapore’s first Asia-Pacific Forum Against Drugs (APFAD) yesterday (27 August 2015) to address the growing global trend of drug legalisation and decriminalisation, and pledge their commitment towards a drug-free society.

A group shot of the participants from the Asia Pacific region after the signing of the APFAD Declaration. NCADA urged them to work with their respective governments to resist the pro-drug lobby and speak up for their children's right to grow up in a drug-free society. PHOTO: Siti Hawa Binte Md Resat

Organised by the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA), the forum saw invited local and international speakers sharing their insights on the drug abuse situation with participants from anti-drug Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and government agencies.

The APFAD marks an important milestone in the lead up to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS-WDP) in April 2016, which will discuss the future of the global drug regime.

Participants at the forum signed the APFAD Declaration put together by the NCADA, espousing the vision of a drug-free society. 

Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Mr Masagos Zulkifli interacting with APFAD participants during the tea session. PHOTO: Siti Hawa Binte Md Resat

 Minister in Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Mr Masagos Zulkifli said, “Apart from endorsing the Declaration, I also urge all of you to work with your respective governments to put across a clear and unequivocal position at UNGASS 2016 that there are still countries and organisations that have not given up the fight against drugs, and are working hard to achieve a society free from drug abuse, for the sake of our children.”

He added that Singapore adopts “a firm zero-tolerance stance against drugs” and “cannot be complacent in this ongoing fight against drugs”.

Earlier on 24 August 2015, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) held a three-day 36th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Drug Matters, where officials took stock of the latest developments and challenges of the region’s drug situation.

The APFAD comes amidst increasing calls from pro-drug lobbyists to decriminalise drug use and legalise certain drugs.

Dr Kevin Sabet, Director of the Drug Policy Institute in Florida said countries outside the United States of America can learn from the drug-related problems in the US without having to experience it themselves.

 “We in the US are suffering as a result (of drug legalisation). You outside can get to say ‘no, we don’t want this’… I’m hoping to bring the message here, mainly as a warning of when liberalisation attitudes creep in.”

Dr Kevin Sabet, Director of the Drug Policy Institute in Florida shared his insights on the challenges posed by efforts to regulate the use and production of cannabis. PHOTO: Siti Hawa Binte Md Resat

“I’ve been encouraged learning about what Singapore is doing about treatment and prevention… but the world needs to hear more about the prevention and rehabilitation going on in the ASEAN countries. Right now the reputation is the death penalty, not about treatment, but it should be… This is a health problem. We don’t want this to become a crime problem,” he added.

Dr Sabet, an expert on cannabis and drug policy, was one of the speakers at the forum. 
 

Secretary General for the European Cities Against Drugs, Mr Erik Leijonmarck (left) during a Q&A session with participants. He spoke about how anti-drug advocates could constructively engage in the global drug policy debate at UNGASS-WDP 2016. PHOTO BY: Siti Hawa Binte Md Resat

Secretary General for the European Cities Against Drugs, Mr Erik Leijonmarck stressed the need to bring anti-drug NGOs to the international table and make their voices heard more strongly in international debates.

“The United Nations (UN) is increasingly asking NGOs for their opinion, and this has previously been an opportunity for the legalisation movement because they have strong NGOs to get their message out to the UN. What the UN member states are hearing… is a very pro-legalisation message and this needs to change.

Anti-drug NGOs like ours should be more active in bringing that voice to the member states,” he said.

Chairman of NCADA Mr Victor Lye presenting the APFAD Declaration to a group of participants from Indonesia. The Declaration comprises key points of consensus centred on APFAD's vision of a drug-free society. PHOTO: Siti Hawa Binte Md Resat

Chairman of NCADA Mr Victor Lye rallied participants to work towards a common purpose: “Our children’s future is at stake. Our strong anti-drug stance is about our values and the kind of society we want for our children to grow up in... We need to stand together and oppose the legalisation of drugs. We must speak up for our children at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS-WDP) in April 2016.”



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