Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday vowed to step up anti-narcotics efforts after he visited former premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄), who urged him to place great importance on anti-drug efforts.
Lai paid a morning visit to Chang’s Kaohsiung residence and the former premier told him that drugs have increasingly become a pressing problem in Taiwan.
“The Philippines claims that Taiwan is the origin of drugs [entering its territory]. This is a very humiliating situation for Taiwan,” Chang said, referring to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments on Wednesday that the Taiwan-based Bamboo Union and Hong Kong-based 14K triad are behind the proliferation of drugs in his nation.
Drug use in Taiwan is also a grave concern, as there are more than 60,000 prisoners serving sentences for drug-related charges, accounting for 45 percent of the total number of inmates, Chang said.
“Social security is a priority of my Cabinet, and drug prevention is the most important project,” Lai said.
The government will take new drug-prevention approaches to prevent drug trafficking from other nations by increasing coast guard and customs inspection capacity with a concerted effort by the Coast Guard Administration and the ministries of justice and the interior, Lai said.
Laws will be revised to toughen the penalties for drug-related crimes, while authorities redouble their efforts to investigate and seize illicit substances, Lai said.
Educational campaigns will also be increased to prevent student drug abuse, Lai said.
As a Christian, Chang has worked with church networks to rehabilitate people convicted of drug offenses and to help inmates reconnect with their families so that improved family ties can help them after their release from prison, Lai said.
Chang, who served as premier under former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) from 2000 to 2002 and from 2007 to 2008, said he approved of the economy-oriented politics of the new Cabinet, Lai said.
Lai also visited Chen in his Kaohsiung residence to pay his regards before heading to Chang’s residence, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.
During Lai’s visit, Chen’s hands were shaking involuntarily, and a urine bag was visible outside his pants, indicating that the former president has been ill, Hsu said, apparently responding to a comment from Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Friday that Chen had psychosomatic symptoms before actually falling ill.
Lai and Chen did not discuss Ko’s comments, but simply focused on the two men’s daily lives, with Lai wishing Chen good health, Hsu said.
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