Monday's annual event in Ayutthaya marks a great setback in a campaign to bring sanity to the 46-year-old "global war on drugs" instigated by ex-US president Richard Nixon. Officials will stage their usual torching of tonnes of drugs seized in raids, highway searches, street corner arrests and home invasions. But for the frist time in years they will be working under orders to step up the suppression. The prime minister "expects to see better resutls", meaning more arrests in the so-called war that was lost years ago.

Last week's order by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is disappoitning on several levels. The order to increase police action is a complete reversal of encouraging movement towards adoption of a more sane and sustainable policy on illicit drugs. As in the past, the ceremony in Ayutthaya will literally blow smoke over the very idea of reforming the failed policies of the past. 

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