Pubdate: Mon, 24 Mar 2003
Source: Nation, The (Thailand)
Copyright: 2003 Nation Multimedia Group


There are two options in dealing with drug dealers - prison or the 
cemetery, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday as he urged 
police and other officials to keep working hard in the government's war on 

Thaksin, in Chiang Mai to explain the government's policy on drugs, noted 
the anti-drugs campaign had gone quiet recently, and as a result, urged 
everyone involved to focus on three fronts to fight the social menace.

"The methods are intensive drug suppression, in particular seizing drug 
money, reducing the number of drug addicts, and lastly, encouraging 
youngsters to become involved in constructive activities," he said.

Every schoolmaster has to make his or her school drug-free, he said.

"If there are any drug addicts, that person must be cured because if we 
leave him or her that way, they will become a drug dealer and the vicious 
drug cycle will continue," the prime minister said.

"For those who are still selling drugs, the government has set two options 
for them, either it is prison or a temple cemetery," he said.

The prime minister noted that northern Thailand is close to the origin of 
drugs but that it needed be "like a dam that has to be strong enough to 
protect people in the country."

"If possible, we would launch a strike on Mong Yawn, which is close to the 
northern Thai border, because it was built with drug money. But we can't do 
this because of international law," he said.

Separately, Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Noor Matha said yesterday that 
many major drug dealers had been arrested in the last few days as police 
stepped up their suppression activities in four northern provinces.

Elsewhere, the Anti-Money Laundering Office's deputy secretary-general, Pol 
Colonel Peeraphan Prempooti, said that police in co-operation with the 
Exmont Group, which is an international financial crime |suppression 
organisation, had managed to recover some US$5 million (Bt215 million) in 
drug money deposited in Singapore and Swiss accounts. "Soon, we will |get 
some more money back |from Hong Kong banks, too," he added.

Drug dealers could no longer escape from the long arm of the law with their 
drug money, he said, no matter where they put it.

He said the agency planned to hold a three-day seminar starting today for 
legal professionals to exchange information and co-operation about seizing 
drug suspects' assets.

On some concerns raised about the selection of AMLO personnel, Peeraphan 
said recruitment at the agency is tougher and more complicated than for any 
other government unit in order to prevent the hiring of spies or other 
people related to the drug trade.

"Every possible aspect of the candidate's background is examined in 
detail," he said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Alex