Police expressed concern Tuesday that drug use among Cambodia’s youth is increasingly taking place in the relative obscurity of guest houses and hotels.
Many young people, after the nightclubs and karaoke parlors close, consider hotels or guest houses quiet and comfortable, explained Neak Yuthea, education and prevention coordinator for the National Authority for Combating Drugs. When they check in, he said, they can lock the door and do what they like without fear of reprisals from police.
“We have arrested them in those places and educated them [not to do it], but they continue to do it,” Neak Yuthea said.
Recently, a number of young people were arrested by the anti-drug police for using narcotics in the Chhay Hor II hotel after the owner complained to the police, police officials and the hotel’s housekeeper said.
The owner of the guest house denied complaining to the police and said he had no knowledge of the arrests, but the housekeeper told a different story.
“Most of the time, they stay in the room, play the CD player, drink and dance,” said the maid, who wished to remain anonymous. She said she spotted what looked like amphetamine pills in the room and reported back to her boss. “I saw the police catch them, but they kept smiling,” the maid said. “I don’t know why they were smiling.”
Neak Yuthea said the NACD is preparing to start an educational program in schools and in public places to inform youth of the perils of drug use. Most schools and universities lack such programs, he said.
Some university students expressed their dismay that so many young people have turned to drugs. “They aren’t cute if they choose to use drugs,” said Heng Chan Sothy, a 24-year-old university student.
“It does not make them bad people, but it demolishes not only the bright future of the young, but of our country.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has received the NACD’s proposals. One ministry official said it is important that the program educates primary school students.
It is better to train students when they are young, said Bun Sok, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education. That way, “when they grow up, they will turn away from drugs. So I am very happy that [the NACD] chose the education sector as a foundation for their program.”