President Tsai orders all-out effort to combat drugs

President Tsai Ying-wen orders multipronged strategy to fight drug use among youth in Taiwan

Cocaine in shape of skull (Photo by sammisreachers at Pixabay.

Recognizing the growing drug problem on campuses across Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) ordered an all-out effort on Monday to arrest drug dealers and help juvenile addicts.

During a meeting of government and ruling party officials, Tsai heard a briefing from Justice Minister Chiu Tai-san (邱太三), who said the drug problem among juveniles has reached "concerning" levels and called for immediate action.

The Executive Yuan has adopted nine strategies to combat the increased level of drug taking among young people, including cracking-down on drug dealers, seizing dealers' illicit profits and establishing a national drug fighting database, Chiu said.

The government is also developing a "protective network" to help addicts kick their habit, with strict penalties for anyone who undermines such rehab programs, according to the minister.

In addition, the government is also working with foreign governments to stop drugs being smuggled into Taiwan, Chiu added.

After hearing Chiu's briefing, the president said young people are increasingly using category three and four drugs such as ketamine, xanax and valium and special attention must be given to them.

"These drugs are increasingly being made into candies or drinks to persuade juveniles to use them. The government must take effective action to strike at suppliers," she said.

She reminded government officials that young drug users should be treated as victims, not criminals, and provided with the help they need to get their lives back on track.

"We must advocate this idea to the public, so that addicts and their parents and family will be more willing to seek assistance from responsible government agencies," she said.

Tsai urged the pooling of resources by communities, schools, non-governmental organizations, religious groups and parental associations, to form an "anti-drug network" that enhances the efficacy of efforts to combat drugs.

"Combating drugs is a major element in the restoration of social order," she said, asking the ministries of Justice, Interior, Education, Health and Welfare, Finance and Labor and the Coast Guard Administration to work together toward that goal.

The president told officials to drive home the message that the government is serious about combating drugs in Taiwan.

She also demanded that the Cabinet provide quarterly reports on progress made in the anti-drugs campaign. 

(By Hsieh Chia-chen and S.C. Chang)