BANGKOK – Singapore’s deputy prime minister warned Southeast Asian countries against legalizing drugs on medical grounds as it could affect the region’s fight against drug-trafficking, media reports said on Thursday.
Teo Chee Hean warned its Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, allies about the ongoing global debate over decriminalization of drugs for therapeutic use and urged them to adopt a zero tolerance policy against drugs.
“We must guard against this as the consequences are serious,” said Teo in Singapore, while unveiling a 10-year ASEAN roadmap to fight the drugs menace in the region.
“As the global debate on drugs intensifies, what we say as a region will matter,” Teo added, according to Channel News Asia.
Teo said the main challenge for the region is the increase in sale of drugs on the internet.
In 2015, one in 10 users bought drugs online, twice that of 2013, according to the Global Drug Survey.
Teo also advocated a crackdown on the Golden Triangle, the area between Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, a hub of drug production and home to 22 percent of the land used in the world for opium cultivation.
ASEAN comprises of Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.
All ASEAN member countries have tough anti-drug laws and most impose capital punishment for drug-related offences.