As a lead consumerist and human rights advocate, who has addressed these issues from the late 80s, I am not the least surprised neither shocked, of news reports, that the government has suffered losses of between RM3 billion and RM5 billion a year, due to revenue leakages at the country’s entry points, smuggling or of the drug threat!

And having been familiar at ground zero, it would be rather simplistic to just cite smuggling activities, negligence, and inadequate equipment, as reasons for this predicament, as one senior civil servant attempted to allude to recently!

More so, when the real reasons are, that of corruption and incompetence, by those expected to monitor and protect entry, exit and border areas!

And though, multi million ringgit “new state of the art technology” is helpful, it is still meaningless, ineffective, if the real issues staring at our faces and denied in political expediency, is acknowledging, the twin pillars of corruption and incompetence within, which undermine all efforts to address this leakages!

And in comparison, this is why, I cannot but be excited and proud to hear from dear friend, the newly minted; Inspector General of Police (IGP) Abdul Hamid Bador, who did not hide nor mince his words, when addressing similar issues and more so, the ‘clear and present danger’ that is brought to the nation in high powered organized drug smuggling and distribution!

The IGP stated the facts without fear or favor.

Neither, did he deny that though his officers have intensified the crackdown on drugs, the levels of substance abuse have reached “breaking point.”

To someone like me, having been in the field for over 40 years, this is the first time a sitting IGP, has publicly acknowledged that drug abuse in this country, and is at breaking point!

Worst, that if we as a nation, do not tackle it now, the abuse will be on par with Colombia!

That is shocking!

I am glad that the IGP highlighted to the nation, that just the last two months, the Narcotic Crimes Investigation Department has redoubled efforts to crack down on drugs, gambling and vice with successful raids.

And that these raids, have even resulted in police officers being hauled up.

He went on record, like no other IGP, that they have arrested no less than 30 men in blue, high on methamphetamine, since January.

If that is not honesty and transparency, I wonder what is!

But the IGP is also correct, that it is time, that we initiated a new approach, to combat drug smuggling, its marketing and distribution which are a multi-billion ringgit operation.

As a lawyer, I am aware, that laws, alone are not adequate to address the surge in these activities, which are multi and Transnational in scope and optics!

Drug smuggling, marketing and distribution, is an international activity, with an international class of players, stakeholders, financiers, cartels and foot soldiers!

As such, old tactics and responses do not work or are ineffective!

It is time that we address this international menace by a strategic approach, where it becomes a joint international approach and response, where the security apparatus and intelligence of perhaps, ASEAN and APEC coordinate, exchange intelligence, data, assets and initiate joint operations on land, sky and sea!

That the respective state departments and attorney general chambers, will initiate joint responses to blacklist players, freeze proceeds from these ill-gotten gains even if, they are deposited in banks of international reputation, conduit companies or even NGOs!

At ground zero, we may have to go back to what we initiated, in the 70’s to 90’s, which was highly successful, where members of the public, are urged to work closely as ‘eyes and ears’ of the security apparatus to combat this menace in the nation’s and public interests!

The IGP has been transparent, accountable and forthright!

On our part, the least we can do is to assist him and our ‘men in blue’ in this war against drugs!