Prince joins Anti-Drugs Walkathon
By Amin Hosni

In efforts to develop a healthier lifestyle both physically and mentally, the Narcotics Control Bureau held an Anti-Drugs Walkathon Sunday, in conjunction with the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking 2007.

Around 3,000 people including government representatives, students, private sector, associations, NGOs, and members of the public took part in the walkathon, which started at Plaza Tengah Komplex Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, BSB.

The royal guest of honour at the event was HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik. Also present was YAM Pengiran Anak Khairul Khalil bin Pengiran Syed Hj Jaafari.

Welcoming Prince 'Abdul Malik were Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, Dato Seri Paduka Eusoff Agaki Haji Ismail and Dato Paduka Haji Abd Majid, Director of Narcotics Control Bureau.

Prior to the 4.5km walkathon, an aerobics session led by a Fitness Zone trainer was held.

Permanent Secretaries and Deputy Permanent Secretaries at the Prime Minister's Office also took part in the walkathon.

According to Haji Yahya, SNO I at the Narcotics Control Bureau, the walkathon was aimed at promoting a healthier lifestyle while at the same time creating awareness on the dangers of drug abuse among the communities in the country and to also assist in fighting the scourge.

"This activity was also meant for youths to use their time creatively and to foster closer relations between NCB officers and members of the public," said Haji Yahya.

The NCB hopes that such activities will help youths to engage more in sports activities thereby reducing drug abuse cases in the country in line with the vision to make Asean free of drugs by 2015.

Statistics provided by the NCB show that the number of drug abusers caught in all four districts has been decreasing over the years. From 1999 to 2007, a total of 5,055 people have been caught abusing drugs.

Of the 5,055 that have been caught, 4,484 are of Malay origin while the rest are Chinese and other races.

The decreasing numbers show that NCB's awareness campaigns are bearing fruit.

The highest number of drug abusers was recorded in 2002 at 713, while the lowest was in 2006 at 420.

This year until July, 441 drug pushers and abusers have been caught. - Borneo Bulletin (27th August 2007)