Editorial comment | A united front

The revelation that threats of new drugs entering the Pacific region cannot be ruled out is a concern. It isn’t new though.

This is why it is important that we listen to and appreciate what Acting Commissioner of Police Juki Fong Chew is suggesting.

Speaking at the Pacific Detector Dog Programme (PDDP) annual workshop last week, he emphasised the importance of developing partnerships to protect the region.

The drug trade, he said, is a lucrative market and therefore those involved would do what they can, to survive.

This presented challenges for those on the frontline. If there was one constant that the police could rely on, he said, it was partnerships they had been working on to make “our Blue Pacific safer together”.

The PDDP is supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and run by the New Zealand Police and New Zealand Customs.

In the face of that, we learn that the High Court in Lautoka has jailed a Tavua farmer for eight years for unlawful cultivation and possession of illicit drugs after 4790 marijuana plants were found on his farm.

Police raided Apenisa Bulivou’s farm at Matalevu, Tavua. Three plastic bags containing dried marijuana leaves were also seized from a tent erected on the farm.

While setting a non-parole period of seven years, Justice Aruna Aluthge remarked that illegal drug dealing was a lucrative business and those who were in the business had no regard for harm caused to the community at large.

He said illicit drug offending had become a serious problem in Fiji.

Once again, we say the drug trade is lucrative.

It has clothed, housed, and empowered many people.

There are people who have benefitted from the trade, and there are some who are living off it. It’s the harsh reality of our world.

As we consider the impact of drugs on our lives, and on the lives of those who are addicted, we should remind ourselves about the important role we can play in fighting the drug war.

This isn’t going to be a walk in the park so to speak. And drugs have been around for some time. We are not immune to its negative impact, and to outside influence.

The acting commissioner has suggested the development and nurturing of partnerships when facing threats at the regional level.

We must accept that the police cannot fight this war alone at home.

They need us all to be effective influencers, and assets against the trade. But that will mean us making decisions to stand up against it.

It will mean understanding the impact on the lives of people, and why we should be part of the fight. At the same time, there has to be some commitment by the powers that be to offer alternatives for those farming marijuana for instance.

But there has to be a united front!

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