“Let them eat ecstasy instead”

Indonesian Ministers are a strange lot, given to stranger ideas about things that seem to suggest that they have a weird sense of humor, tasteless  or plain ignorant – in this case of their pharmacology, as in the case of Freddy Numbei.

Pressed to answer whey there is an increase of accident-related deaths in this year’s mudik Freddy suggested that the accidents were caused, not by poor or congested road conditions, but because they were tired and fell asleep on the wheel. His solution? Give them ecstasy pills so they can stay awake. Strange pharmacology at work here, which begs the question: what was Freddy smoking when he made the silly statement?

Want Alert Mudik Travelers? Give Them Ecstasy, Minister Jokes

Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi frustratingly joked on Tuesday that exhausted mudik travelers could be given illegal ecstasy pills to keep them awake during the long slog back and forth from their hometowns during the annual exodus.

His remarks seemed born more of exasperation than earnestness, made to journalists after a cabinet meeting at the State Palace.

Freddy said that he could not do much regarding accidents as many were caused by drivers suffering from exhaustion who refused to stop and rest.

“If sleepy people caused the accident, what should I say,” Freddy said. “What can I explain if the travelers were tired. If the [public transportation] vehicles used were broken, we could punish the companies. But if people are tired, should we give them ecstasy pills to prevent them from being tired?”

The National Police recorded 4,006 accidents between Aug. 23 and Sept. 4. Idul Fitri, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, fell on Aug. 31 this year.

The number of accidents was up by a third from last year’s figure of 3,010, but the number of fatalities was down — 661 compared to 746 last year, according to the police. Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih said on Monday that the number of fatalities was “around 700.”

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