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Drug message urged for festival

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NACD officials destroy drugs in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district in July. Heng Chivoan

Drug message urged for festival

The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) requests major state institutions promote drug awareness activities to Cambodians on the occasion of the 15 days of Kan Ben and Pchum Ben festival this year.

Cambodian Buddhists will observe Pchum Ben for 15 days from September 22 to October 6, with the principal festivities celebrated from October 5-7, ending a day after the main day of “great offering”, or Ben Thom, on October 6 coinciding with the new moon. The holiday is dedicated to their ancestors and is an occasion for families to get together.

On September 9, NACD vice chairman Chuon Sovann sent a letter to the Minister of Public Works and Transport; Minister of Cults and Religions; Minister of Information; Minister of Posts and Telecommunications; and Minister of Culture and Fine Arts to promote anti-drug awareness activities on the occasion of the festival.

The letter said during the festival, civil servants and citizens will travel to pagodas or hometowns.

“The participation of these institutions is requested to raise the awareness of the people to be more active in protecting themselves, their families, friends and community from the problems related to drug use,” the letter said.

Sovann the institutions can help promote anti-drug awareness through activities such as putting anti-drug educational messages on vehicles transporting people to pagodas and in public places.

He added that he also requested that the owners of all television productions and movies and media participate in disseminating and posting educational messages on anti-drug awareness issues as widely as possible to encourage public safety during this big national celebration.

Meas Sovann, president of the Drug Addict Relief Association of Cambodia (DARAC), welcomed the move.

He said the NACD’s planning was good, but the local implementation of law enforcement in preventing and cracking down on drugs was more important and that it required regular ongoing attention.

“The drug problem is very complicated, so planning alone is not enough. There needs to be more participation from all parties. For example, during these two years, when the authorities implemented strict plans to prevent Covid-19, we saw that the drug problem also decreased and it suppressed a lot of crime.

“We have to do this at the same time together,” he said.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on September 13 that the police had cracked down on 440 drug offences in August, indicating an increase of 111 cases, or 33.7 per cent compared to July.

Of the 440 cases, 355 involved drug possession and trafficking, 84 were drug use and one case of synthesis or manufacture of drugs. Police had arrested 861 suspects, an increase of 12 people compared to July.

“Although the number of drug cases and the number of suspects that the police cracked down on and detained increased compared to July, the amount of drugs seized by the police decreased by more than 161kg, or 73.6 per cent lower than the nearly220 kg of drugs seized in July.

“The increased numbers for July were due to the fact that the police were cracking down on bigger cases,” he said.

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