On 28 January 2003 Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra signed Prime Minister’s Order 29/2546, setting down guidelines for the “Concerted Effort of the Nation to Overcome Drugs”, widely known as the ‘war on drugs,’ to begin on February 1. Out of Thailand’s sixty-three million citizens, three million (roughly five per cent) are estimated to use methamphetamines or ‘crazy pills’. A mixed drug known as “ya ba” was increasingly being sold that contained methamphetamine and caffeine. Most users are Thailand’s youth population. Thaksin stated that “Illicit drugs are a menace to society. Our country will have no future if our children are addicted to drugs. It is the duty of every citizen to fight this drug menace.”
Despite the order discussing education and rehabilitation instead of criminalization, the ‘war on drugs’ was executed in a different way: killing drug criminals and users who are enemies to the state. A combination of incentives and warnings were used to have police eliminate as many suspected drug dealers as they could in three months. The incentives were mainly financial, increasing bonuses to officers for drug hauls of larger numbers. Prime Minister Thaksin boasted that “at three Baht per methamphetamine tablet seized, a government official can become a millionaire by upholding the law, instead of begging for kickbacks from the scum of society”
They will be put behind bars or even vanish without a trace. Who cares? They are destroying our country.
—Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Nor Matha, referring to drug dealers, January 2003
In many provinces, there are death squads roaming around killing drug dealers. The rule of law and democracy could disappear overnight.
—Somchai Homlaor, secretary-general, Forum Asia, March 2003
The following videos explain Thaksin’s plans for drug trafficking in further detail, sharing statistics about drug use.