SINGAPORE: Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli has said that a concerted effort across ASEAN is needed to tackle the region’s drug situation.

Mr Masagos said this at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Drug Matters in Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei when he delivered Singapore’s country statement.

Mr Masagos said that while Singapore’s tough stance against drug trafficking and consumption has kept the drug situation in the country relatively under control, drug trafficking is a transnational crime and continues to pose a challenge to ASEAN states.

He added that individual countries alone will not be able to overcome the problems caused by the illicit drug trade.

He stressed that bilateral cooperation and a regional framework are critical to effective enforcement efforts against these challenges.

Mr Masagos reinforced the need for ASEAN member states to strengthen collaboration at the regional level and urged ASEAN to work together with national governments, law enforcement agencies and communities to address the drug threat effectively.

A statement from the Home Affairs Ministry said ASEAN ministers reaffirmed their commitment to fight drug abuse and its associated crimes of drug trafficking as a region, and work towards a Drug-Free ASEAN.

The ASEAN ministers agreed to strengthen national programmes and collaborate to combat the drug menace.

This includes the setting up of an ASEAN Narcotics Office in Thailand to coordinate efforts of ASEAN member states to fight against drugs.

– CNA/ms