Celebrities not immune in the war on narcotics

Celebrities not immune in the war on narcotics
Jaycee Chan (L), the son of Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, and his manager (name unavailable) bow at the beginning of a press conference in Beijing on February 14, 2015 following his release from jail.

Arrests of Chinese actors and singers on drug-related offences over the past few years show that those in the nation's entertainment industry are not immune to prosecution, a key official with the Beijing Public Security Bureau said on Wednesday. "We are definitely not indulgent with the celebrities. People who are involved in drug-related cases must be cracked down on in accordance with laws, no matter who they are, which occupation they have or how high their social status," said Jiang Liangdong, the bureau's deputy director.

Drug users in Beijing and across the country are a diverse group, though celebrities seem to be a "harder-hit area", Jiang said, adding that Beijing police made strides in fighting celebrity drug use last year.

"We caught several superstars who used drugs and took others to use drugs," he said. "Our crackdown against celebrities who used drugs was also aimed at asking them to be 'good men' before they made a movie and sang a song, as well as let them know the importance of establishing their public image."

On Jan 9, Jaycee Chan, son of Chinese kung fu superstar Jackie Chan, was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 2,000 yuan (S$433) after being convicted of helping others take drugs in August.

A month later, popular singer Yin Xiangjie received a seven-month sentence and a 2,000 yuan fine for illegally possessing drugs.

"Using drugs, in fact, has seriously damaged the health and future careers of stars, and as public figures their image has also been broken among their followers," Jiang said. "They should improve their self-quality, avoiding the negative effects that they brought to society."

Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the National Anti-Drug Commission and assistant minister of public security, questioned the motivation of celebrity drug users.

"Some celebrities explained that they relied on drugs to spark inspiration and improve performance, but in my eyes, that's an excuse for their wrongdoing," Liu said.

To reduce the drug problem among stars, Jiang said, the Beijing police began stricter inspections of the city's entertainment venues and urged residents to report drug use.

Beijing police received more than 1,500 reports and tips related to drug use since January, a 65 per cent increase over last year. The Public Security Bureau has paid more than 200,000 yuan in rewards to those providing drug tipoffs.

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