Written by Saraa Abas

Drug abuse has been an on-going global attention and recognised by the United Nation as one of battling epidemic affecting our societies. All countries participate and support the effort in regulating the substance and preventive measures overcoming the issue. For so many years, drug abuse effect has been prolonging in social problems, political and economic corruptions.

Malaysia always show its authority’s commitment by constantly reporting new cases involving drug abuse and raids. The Malaysian Police use media as their platform to update the public on the illicit activities and strong opinion in fighting against drug abuse. Drug  dispensary is highly regulated in Malaysia and the punishment related to drug trafficking is severe. In most Asian countries, it is not the media norms to openly discuss current social problems in public.

As for international discussion on drug abuse issue, they openly addressed the social problems arises from the substance abuse. It is treated as social and health issues and the freedom of media allows writers to express and shares their opinion and preventive suggestions. The uses of drugs are less regulated compared to Asia’s due to the development of western’s pharmaceutical industries. However, like any countries, they still faced the same epidemic of abused and addiction among societies.

In recent years, few countries have taken the step to revolutionise and revise government’s policies of drug restrictions, especially marijuana. The public demand of marijuana as recreational drug among westerners has spread its influence on several Asia’s countries that strictly opposed the ideology. Few other drug restrictions are pressured by the public to lessen on the regulations to give options of an alternative medication which are organic based.

The difference of countries methods of prevention and crackdown has been sensational debates over human rights and drastic measures. It is a global dilemma in fighting the drug established syndicates and implementing a standard suitable measure. The epidemic is vastly growing and all countries need to critically adapt to the situation.

Media Propagation

To understand the current status of refugee crisis today, we monitored the local and international mainstream media outlets that disseminate updates and current news relating to this issue. The reflections of world views upon this matter are much likely influenced by how these media portrays the situation (Gerbner, 1999) and agreement of a particular cause. We examined two media outlets, a Malaysia’s news media, The Star and an international news media, The Guardian. One month media monitoring is held in the month of October 2016 via online, collecting the related articles and extracting their perspective reporting upon this matter.

Malaysian Media: The Star

The Star is established by Star Media Group Berhad, formerly as Star Publication (Malaysia) Berhad, over 16 years and revamped in 2008, embracing digital news, The Star Online, integrate themselves along with readers demand, offering better access to news stories, channel and multimedia. Apart from news by local journalist, we’ve noticed that The Star subscribed to Reuters, a Russia’s based international media, for its foreign news.

i.          Drug problems as criminal offence

Malaysia is among countries that prohibited the substance abuse and regulates drugs problems as serious criminal offences. Governed under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, it regulates the import, export, manufacture, sale and use of opium, dangerous drugs and related materials. Over the years, drug abused contributed to high social problems among the society. Therefore, the Malaysian authorities and media, pledge to overcome this epidemic, promoting the negative consequences of drug problems and restriction on substance.

In news reporting, in several The Star news headlines, it emphasises on the criminal doings related drug abuse and trafficking. The headlines use of words describing as ‘menace’, ‘gangland’ and ‘caught’, portrays that the Malaysian authorities commitment in confronting this problem.

Image credit: Straitstimes.com Image source

ii.        Against drug legalisation revolution

Encountering the drug policies revolutions in few western countries, The Star disseminates news related on policies and laws are that against the normalisation and decriminalisation of drug issues. This showed the agreement by The Star, along with concurrent government mission to educate their readers on the restrictions and regulations on drug abuse supported by international bodies and foreign countries.

iii.      Philippine drug crackdown

The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte launched a drug war in Philippine to encounter the severe drug epidemic, drastically, instructing the authorities and civilian to execute any drug trafficker in plain sight. This shocking move resulting a staggering increase of offender’s casualties and raises concerns from international human rights movements. The current events lead to media attention to focus on Philippine’s president, on his bold criticism towards United Nation and United States, who disagree with Philippine drug’s war.

International Media: The Guardian

For the international media, The Guardian, is part of the Guardian Media Group, owned by The Scott Trust Limited which was created in 1936. In recent 2010, the Guardian has significantly developed and expanded its digital operations. Their objective is to secure the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity and to safeguard the journalistic freedom and liberal values of The Guardian free from commercial or political interference.

i.          Treat as social and health problems

The Guardian is keen on educating their readers to understand the epidemic as social and health issues instead of criminal perspectives. It addresses health concerns and prevention measures to the society by statistical fact in convincing their readers on the effect of drug abused on health. The articles published mostly featured article to educate the public to be aware of the substance use and their social responsibilities in the society.

Image credit: New Bridge Recovery Image source


ii.        Acceptance of drug substance

The drug revolution movement demanding for Marijuana legalisation has become one of global discussion where more and more countries began to legalise few substances. Few European countries, Australia and several states in United States have now normalised and decriminalised several drug policies especially the usage of Marijuana. Numerous articles published by The Guardian shows on the support of marijuana legalisation compared to drug restrictions or demoting drug abused.

iii.      Drug problems versus human rights

Reporting the global efforts in fighting drug abuse and trafficking, The Guardian gives a fair coverage in discussing the contradiction of current drug regulations and human right’s principles. It is important to address both issues in finding suitable agreements on the current policies in fighting drug problems in a suitable manner.  Whilst the media reports on the support of marijuana legalisation, it also highlighted government efforts in battling the epidemic which involves other substance that could harm the public. In series of events on drug abuse crackdown, The Guardian portrays the government affirmation in combatting drug abuse.


Image credit: Harm Reduction International Image source


From the observation, the Malaysian media, The Star have limited views on the issue and maintain the same perspective of the government policies. Being rigid on the criminal consequences of drug abuse, the advocacy implemented on the public showed the authorities commitment battling the issues. The news reporting styles are more straight forwards with no additional information or support from other various sources to educate their readers on the harm of drug abuse. The approach taken by the media is portraying the consequences of offence and punishment to advocates their readers on drug abuse issues. The Star own perspectives yet to be discovered as for now, there are not enough evidence to conclude their agreement on the drug abuse, where they stand in overcoming these issues related to drug abuse.

In contrary, The Guardian implements a different approach in reporting the issue. Not reporting any personal criminal offences, it focuses on the discussions of opinion leaders upon the society’s concerns related to drug abuse and other interest parties’ efforts in encountering the current changes policies and demand of drug substance. The Guardian showed its commitment in educating the public of the harm of substance and general knowledge of this problems status around the world. By advocating and educating, they believe in influencing its public in reducing drug abuse problems. Contradicting to their values, by showing their support on drug legalisation also promote drug substance usage among its public.



2015 World Drug Report finds drug use stable, access to drug & HIV treatment still low. (n.d.). Retrieved Nov 01, 2016, from United Nation Office on Drug and Crime: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2015/June/2015-world-drug-report-finds-drug-use-stable–access-to-drug-and-hiv-treatment-still-low.html

AlJazeera. (2016, November 12). The refugee crisis and the Greeks: One year on. Retrieved from Aljazeera.com: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/inthefield/2016/11/refugee-crisis-greeks-year-161110113307707.html

Gerbner, G. (1999). Television and its viewers: Cultivation theory and research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Guardian. (n.d.). Retrieved October 01, 2016, from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/

The Star Online. (n.d.). Retrieved October 01, 2016, from The Star: http://www.thestar.com.my/

UNODC Drug Trafficking. (n.d.). Retrieved Nov 01, 2016, from United Nation Office on Drug and Crime: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-trafficking/