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I read with sadness in my heart the news of a talented rock singer, Ameng or his real name is Wan Aminuddin Wan Ismail, the vocalist for the group Spring which was at one time quite popular with their songs, being sentenced to eight years imprisonment and 10 strokes of the rotan (kind of whip made of hard plant) for drug possession and abuse. Gosh, it is so unnecessary for him, he should have gone on continuous treatment like another popular singer who managed to escape this rather “cruel” sentence. So humiliating and inhuman, and would it make an addict stop taking drugs if left untreated? I doubt it.

Ameng

I feel for Ameng because some years back, as a volunteer, I attended a PEMADAM ( an NGO against Drug Abuse) conference in an east coast state and there was Ameng singing with his beautiful voice at a dinner and we were told that he had been drug-free for some time. He looked healthy and confident. And now he is in the pit of his life. Drug addiction is not easy to overcome due to relapses thus the addict really needs a prolonged therapy and strong support from friends and loved ones. Ameng obviously did not have these important prerequisites to be rehabilitated or “cured” and consequently rid of this evil.

Drug possession and abuse are usually secondary to addiction. Addiction is when you have no control over your needs despite knowing that it is detrimental to your health and your freedom. You are medically sick and in great need of a proper structured treatment.

Why can’t we do a study of how many drug addicts who have been whipped are cured of their addiction? This is to make us think again whether we should review this kind of humiliating and mentally traumatising sentence. As far as I know, through my reading, sentence by whipping is not practiced in civilised countries.

Ameng at 42 and with a family, has lost everything especially human dignity in a society which appears to ignore people like him. A society which treats members this way cannot be seen as caring.

Unless we care we will never be a society deserving of respect.

And yes, drug addiction may occur in any setting and can affect your family, your son, grandson, great grandson, great-great grandson…..

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