Daily Archives: November 2, 2019

Decades of fight to realize a “Drug-Free” ASEAN

Drug abuse has snatched sons from their mothers, split families, caused student dropouts after imprisonment for being users and dealers, and wrecked careers and buried the dreams of artists, politicians, cops, judges, and public figures.

The glaring truth here is that illicit drugs have mercilessly eyed all strata and age groups of society: the young and old, the haves and haves-not, as well as ordinary and respected figures.

Despite the imposition of stricter laws by authorities and the drug users being viewed in a negative light, illicit substance abuse continues to hog news headlines and be pervasive in day-to-day talks.

Skeptics believe that the fight against illegal drugs might never reach a logical end. The authorities might be left aggravated and exasperated, but they have no other option but to seek more creative solutions to tackle the issue.

Since 1976, the fight against illicit drugs has become a regional concern, as 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) established the ASEAN Drug Experts Meeting. The group’s special body, whose name was changed to ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters (ASOD) in 1984, has targeted the realization of a Drug-Free ASEAN.

Under the ASOD, at least four mechanisms were established, followed by two multi-year work plans for the 2009-2015 and 2016-2025 periods. Both work plans outlined different priorities that follow the global and regional trends and outlooks of drug abuse.

In its first work plan on fighting drugs, ASEAN members eyed the priority to halt distribution and disrupt the production of black gold or poppy cultivation and other production of illicit substances, such as methamphetamine and marijuana, in Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle.

Well-concealed in the lush tropical forests near the rivers of Ruak and Mekong, the Golden Triangle, spanning 367 thousand square miles, comprises flat lands overlapped with mountainous terrains where Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos share their borders. Coupled with the land’s high altitude and remote location, the Golden Triangle became the ideal location for the production of illicit drugs that were later distributed to countries in East Asia and South-East Asia as well as Australia.

Hence, since the 1980s, Golden Triangle, where the world’s second-largest poppy cultivation takes place, had been the main target of anti-narcotics operations launched by the military in Myanmar and Thailand. Consequently, some of the traffickers, such as the Shan United Army (SUA), could no longer operate freely in the border area, the US-intelligent CIA reported in a document disclosed in 2011.

However, SUA was not the sole trafficker and producer of illicit drugs, as the infamous Golden Triangle was also controlled by other ethnic-based insurgent groups, including the 3rd and 5th Chinese Irregular Force (CIF), the Burmese Communist Party (BCP), the Shan State Volunteer Force (SSVF), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Shan State Army (SSA), and the Shan United Revolutionary Army.

Hence, since 1982 until today, military-launched anti-narcotics operations remained the top solution for Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos to dismantle refineries as well as burn poppy and cannabis plantations in some parts of the Golden Triangle.

Joint operation

Despite anti-narcotics operations being launched for decades in the South-East Asian region, the illicit trafficking of drugs kept increasing due to the reported proliferation of methamphetamine and new psychoactive substances (NPS), according to the Drug Free ASEAN 2015: Evaluation and Recommendations Post-2015 report.

The document, reflecting the final assessment of the ASEAN Work Plan 2009-2015 on the fight against illicit drugs, concluded that the ASEAN member states need a more holistic approach, especially the ASEAN’s drug agencies and authorities must evolve from the one-dimensional control approach to a multi-dimensional management approach.

In light of the recommendations, ASEAN’s Work Plan for the 2016-2015 period set up 26 references that would serve as guidelines to crack down on illicit drugs for the regional body’s member states. The work plan comprised seven sections: general activities; preventive education; law enforcement; treatment and rehabilitation; research; alternative development; and extra-regional cooperation.

For instance, in terms of law enforcement, the eradication of illicit crop cultivation, manufacture, and trafficking remained the top targets of the war against narcotics in the region.

However, the work plan reaffirmed the efforts by prompting ASEAN member states to enhance cross-border and trans-national law enforcement collaboration, cooperation, and capacity building on drug control, including through air, land, sea, and waterways, such as the Mekong River, without prejudice to freedom of navigation and transportation.

A series of collaboration through joint researches, anti-narcotic operations, and region-wide campaigns became inevitable for the ASEAN member states, as illicit drug trafficking was part of etrans-national organized crimes that turned the region not only into a home for manufacturing but also a market that offers lucrative profit to dealers and traffickers.

Unprecedented move

Apart from several stricter efforts made against traffickers and dealers in the region, Thailand had softened its stance on cannabis sativa that was largely illegal in nearly all ASEAN member states. In 2018, the Thailand authority passed a bill that allows the use of cannabis for medical purposes and research. Thailand’s unprecedented move might be followed by Malaysia, as this year, the Muslim-majority nation has considered a plan to legalize medical cannabis. The Malaysian authority might allow its citizens to grow their own cannabis plants though necessitating permits from the country’s Health Ministry.

Due to the stigma surrounding cannabis, its legalization for medical purposes might never be expected by ASEAN member states, as its work plan on fighting illicit drugs had no references on any marijuana research. Despite the lack of studies on the impacts of cannabis legalization on the illicit trafficking of drugs, ASEAN member states must start questioning whether the growing trend of medical marijuana was a promise or threat to the region.

Source: ANTARA News

Indonesia urges ASEAN to increase regional monitoring mechanism

We must also strengthen our common determination to face foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) which again target our region. We have no other choice but to stop their attempts to build networks, spread radical narration and commit extremism violence

Bangkok, Thailand (ANTARA) – Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD has appealed to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to develop and increase a comprehensive security monitoring mechanism. He made the remarks at the meeting of the ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC) Council which is part of a series of meetings held on the occasion of the 35th ASEAN Summit at the IMPACT Arena, Nonthaburi, Thailand, Saturday

At the closed-door meeting, Mahfud MD, accompanied by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, conveyed five essential issues that should be of common interest to countries in the region.

The first issue was related to terrorism. Terrorist groups continued to change their tactics and strategies including involving women as attackers, Mahfud said.

“We must also strengthen our common determination to face foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) who again target our region. We have no other choice but to stop their attempts to build networks, spread radical narration and commit extremist violence,” he said.

Besides, he called on ASEAN member states to enhance the exchange of information on cross-border terrorism through Interpol 247 and ASEAN Our Eyes.

The second issue was linked to the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and the digital economy.

In this regard, Mahfud asked ASEAN member states to protect their cyber room from possible attacks, address challenges including cross-border data flow, and protect personal data.

“That is why it is very important for ASEAN to strengthen cooperation in cybersecurity,” he said.

The third issue was drug smuggling for which ASEAN member states must be committed to preventing trafficking, he said.

The fourth issue was the implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) through practical cooperation in the four areas of cooperation contained in the outlook, he said.

“The implementation of AOIP will reflect the active role and centrality of ASEAN in creating a peaceful ecosystem in the region,” he said.

The fifth issue was related to the protection of human rights in the region.

Ten years after the establishment of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights (AICHR), the time is ripe to assess the AICHR frame of reference to promote and protect human rights in the region, Mahfund said.

“The challenges and issues I mentioned above can only be dealt with when we are united and the ASEAN centrality is the key,” he said.

Source: ANTARA News

Mochamad Iriawan elected PSSI chief for 2019-2023 period

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Police Commissioner General Mochamad Iriawan was elected chief of the All Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) after obtaining majority vote at the association’s extraordinary congress held at Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta on Saturday.

Iriawan, popularly known as Iwan Bule, gained 82 out of the 85 votes cast in the PSSI chief election.

Three voters abstained, with one of them from the football club Persis Solo walking out.

Tens of supporters rallied outside the hotel when the PSSI extraordinary congress was ongoing.

“We only demand to get rid of old people from PSSI,” Ivan Nuraziz, coordinator of the rally, stated.

Tens of police officers were deployed in front of the BNI building to prevent the demonstrators from gaining access to the meeting room.

Dissatisfied with the result of the congress, the demonstrators vociferously echoed slogans and unfurled a banner “PSSI Revolution.”

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has made assurance that the government will not intervene in the PSSI congress to be held on Saturday, November 2.

“Once again, the government cannot meddle in anything related to the PSSI extraordinary congress that will elect its chief,” he stated during a weekly discussion with journalists at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta Friday.

The president admitted to paying special attention to the development of Indonesian football.

When I introduced the newly inducted youth and sports minister, I reminded him of football, and football,” he stated.

Source: ANTARA News

Mochamad Iriawan elected PSSI chief for 2019-2023 period

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Police Commissioner General Mochamad Iriawan was elected chief of the All Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) after obtaining majority vote at the association’s extraordinary congress held at Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta on Saturday.

Iriawan, popularly known as Iwan Bule, gained 82 out of the 85 votes cast in the PSSI chief election.

Three voters abstained, with one of them from the football club Persis Solo walking out.

Tens of supporters rallied outside the hotel when the PSSI extraordinary congress was ongoing.

“We only demand to get rid of old people from PSSI,” Ivan Nuraziz, coordinator of the rally, stated.

Tens of police officers were deployed in front of the BNI building to prevent the demonstrators from gaining access to the meeting room.

Dissatisfied with the result of the congress, the demonstrators vociferously echoed slogans and unfurled a banner “PSSI Revolution.”

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has made assurance that the government will not intervene in the PSSI congress to be held on Saturday, November 2.

“Once again, the government cannot meddle in anything related to the PSSI extraordinary congress that will elect its chief,” he stated during a weekly discussion with journalists at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta Friday.

The president admitted to paying special attention to the development of Indonesian football.

When I introduced the newly inducted youth and sports minister, I reminded him of football, and football,” he stated.

Source: ANTARA News

FIFA president to meet Jokowi in Bangkok

FIFA wants to congratulate the President on the election of Indonesia to host U-20 World Cup 2021

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President Gianni Infantino is slated to meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in Bangkok to discuss the U-20 World Cup 2021, Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali said. “FIFA wants to congratulate the President on the election of Indonesia as the host for the U-20 World Cup 2021,” Amali said in Jakarta Saturday.

At the meeting, President Jokowi will convince the world soccer governing body that football is one of favorite sports in Indonesia.

He learned of the planned meeting between Infantino and Jokowi from Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi who is in Bangkok accompanying the president during the 35th ASEAN Summit, he said.

President Jokowi and First Lady Iriana arrived in Bangkok Saturday to attend the Summit from November 2 to 4.

FIFA chose Indonesia as the host of the U-20 World Cup 2021 after besting Brazil and Peru.

Indonesia is the second Southeast Asian country to host the event after Malaysia in 1997 when the tournament was called FIFA World Youth Championship.

As the host, Indonesia will automatically compete in the U-20 World Cup. This will be the country’s first participation in the tournament.

Source: ANTARA News