Alcoholism, drug abuse now a concern in rural Sarawak — Uggah

Standing from fifth from left: Uggah, Chuat, Rentap and longhouse chiefs holding the awareness flyers. On the left is Social Development Council executive secretary Dr Zufar Yadi Brendan Abdullah.

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BETONG, June 24: Alcoholism and drug abuse, confined mainly to urban folk previously, are sneaking into the rural areas.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas lamented that Betong division was no longer invincible to these social scourge.

Speaking at a dialogue session organised by the Social Development Council at Rumah Dau Gandau in Temedak, Ulu Spak, here yesterday (June 23), Uggah said the matter was getting serious.

“This is perhaps due to the better standard of living of the people and better road links as a result of the government’s good policies. And when the prices of oil palm and pepper are very good, many people or their children can afford many things,” he said in a statement.

This feel-good situation, unfortunately, had led to alcoholism and now drug abuse among the youths here.

“This month, for instance, we had two fatal road accidents involving youths who were said to be intoxicated,” he highlighted.

Hence, he hoped the Social Development Council could help find ways to tackle these problems.

“I would suggest it starts at the primary school level, with special anti-alcoholism and anti-drug abuse programmes. Let us indoctrinate the young minds to make them hate smoking, drug and substance abuse and also excessive drinking.

“Similarly, among the very young children, we should teach them to be aware of sexual abuses involving them and to report any occurrence,” he said, adding that there should be active communication links with parents, too.

Another social ill that needs to be stopped is teenage pregnancy.

“This problem is due to the lack of discipline and parental monitoring,” he reckoned.

Uggah told those present that elected representatives would be very happy to help organise programmes to solve all these problems. This includes mobilising party workers to implement them.

Meanwhile, Betong MP Datuk Robert Lawson Chuat, who was also present, described the dialogue as a very useful one and was happy that longhouse chiefs and parents were among its participants.

“The elderly, with the knowledge gained, can do their part by advising and reminding youths to stay away from these social problems,” said Robert.

Layar assemblyman Gerald Rentap Jabu, who also spoke, echoed a similar concern. — DayakDaily