Drug Control Commission calls for increased collaboration between SARs

Andy Tsang visits the Ká-Hó Treatment Center

The National Drug Control Commission of China has called on both Macau and Hong Kong to increase cooperation between their regions to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking and to combat the use of teenagers in the illegal trade. This comes after two Hong Kong teenagers were caught in Macau with drugs worth about HKD54,000 and more than HKD20,000 respectively last week.

These residents had been selling drugs in bars and nightclubs in the NAPE area.

According to the deputy director of National Drug Control Commission of China, Andy Tsang, such cases are not a new phenomenon and require serious attention.

Tsang was speaking on the sidelines of his visit at the Association of Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers of Macau (ARTM) at Ká-Hó Treatment Center yesterday.

He has been leading a delegation to the region to conduct discussions on drug abuse prevention, drug rehabilitation and injury reduction for the development of drug control.

Speaking to the press, Tsang, who is a former Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Department, said he is assured that Macau’s Hong Kong counterparts are already tracking down the mastermind of the trade who is using teenagers.

“The drug market is flooded with supply. […] Unless we’re successful in reducing demand, the criminals will be there to exploit the situation and take advantage of it. Using teenage couriers is certainly something that they were trying,” said Tsang.

“Tracking is one thing, and [prosecuting] is another. At the moment, there is no extradition or rendition agreement between Macau and Hong Kong, so what we do is to administrate it under the current arrangement,” the official added. 

Tsang recalled that when the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances was first drafted, drug-taking was seen as a criminal behavior and therefore one requiring sanctions.

Yet, things have changed for such cases as drug consumption, according to Tsang, which is now seen as a health problem or a disease.

Questioned as to whether a treatment program should soon replace jail sentences, Tsang said, “it is kind of a disease that requires treatment and that is why we are moving from a standardized drug program to a human needs-based program,” the official explained, adding that such treatment is available in the region through the ARTM.

“In mainland China, we are actually encouraging consideration of this too – for lesser cases – to go for community based treatment instead of jail sentences but there’s always a risk of addiction that responsible governments need to attend to,” he said.

Commenting on the city’s available treatments for people undergoing drug rehabilitation, Tsang said that ARTM had started its program by focusing on the psychological and physiological needs of the individuals.

“I was particularly pleased to know that they went further than that and had a more or less customized arrangement for individuals. […] They went beyond this very humanity-based sort of treatment,” said Tsang.

He also revealed that delegations from the mainland are lining up to visit ARTM to exchange ideas and practices relating to drug treatment rehabilitation.

Tsang has been formally nominated by the central government to compete for the position of executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and general director of the United Nations Office in Vienna.

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