Government Wants Private Sector to Join Fight Against Drugs

After recruiting police, monks and public schools, the government is now planning to enlist the private sector in its campaign against illegal drugs, an official said on Thursday.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Au­thority for Combating Drugs, said fighting drugs and drug-related crimes would require involvement from those inside and outside the government.

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Interior Minister Sar Kheng, left, and anti-drug czar Ke Kim Yan speak on Thursday at the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh, in a photograph posted to the National Police’s website.

“We cannot work alone,” General Vyrith said on Thursday. “We want [the private sector] to be involved and to meet them in order to tell them to prepare announcements for people under their authority to get them to cooperate and say no to drugs.”

Top officials—including Interior Minister Sar Kheng, drug authority head Ke Kim Yan and Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong—met on Thursday morning to discuss ways to involve private companies in the government’s anti-drug campaign, Gen. Vyrith said following the meeting.

Since the crackdown began in January, 6,356 people have been arrested for drug-related crimes, according to data posted on Thursday on the National Police website—more than half the number of drug-related arrests in all of last year.

Gen. Vyrith said authorities were unsure whether government messages about the dangers of drug use were reaching blue-collar workers in the private sector who may be more susceptible to abusing drugs, such as factory workers and commercial drivers.

“As you might have heard…drivers use drugs,” he said.

Last year, a survey of commercial night drivers in Battambang province, who were polled at temporary roadside checkpoints set up in response to an increase in fatal traffic accidents, found that about 80 percent of the drivers tested positive for methamphetamine.

Yoy Vibol, manager at bus company Giant Ibis, on Thursday said his company was already drug testing its drivers every three months and would join the government’s cause if asked.

Drivers who test positive for illicit drugs are subject to immediate termination, Mr. Vibol said. Other employees, apart from drivers, are also tested for drugs if their behavior appears unusual, he said.

Gen. Vyrith said the drug authority would be inviting private sector representatives to meet next Friday in Phnom Penh to discuss how they could promote anti-drug messages among their employees.

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