Fatimah (third left) sharing a slideshow on modes of drugs and substances to Sarawak while (from left) State Health Department chief assistant medical officer Samasu Johari, Sarawak Customs Department deputy director Hamisan Kalip, Jasmirol, and Munawwar Ismail, drug prevention special officer from the State Education Department’s Drug Prevention Education Unit, look on. Photo: Ramidi Subari

KUCHING: There are numerous issues faced by the various agencies involved in handling drug and substance abuse cases in Sarawak, one of which is allocation for equipment and instruments.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said that such equipment was important to increase these agencies’ efficiency in carrying out their duties.

“One of the early requests was for detection dogs in Kuching. Another was for technology to monitor and detect, such as drones,” she said in a press conference at her ministry’s office at the Baitul Makmur Building here yesterday, held in conjunction with the One Stop Committee (OSC) report on handling drug and substance abuse.

She said that another challenge was Sarawak’s vastness and its many jalan tikus (illegal routes) along its border.

In addition, she said that the difference in drug prices between Sarawak, Indonesia and Brunei posed an issue as some individuals would see this as an opportunity to sell drugs, using Sarawak as a transit point.

She said that other challenges included prosecution as there are only a few magistrates in some districts, meaning that efficiency in remanding offenders was hindered.

“We also only have one pathology laboratory and it is in Kuching, whereby urine samples are sent to these laboratories to be used as evidence for prosecution in court,” she said.

According to Fatimah, treatment and rehabilitation opportunities are also limited.

“The Cure and Care Rehabilitation Centre (CCRC) can only accommodate 154 individuals per year, but the number of people who need to be treated is much more. The capacity is insufficient so CCRC has not taken clients since January this year,” she said.

She hoped for more rehabilitation centres in the community, including efforts carried out by non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“We must combine our efforts in rehabilitation, advocacy programmes, prevention and intervention so that we can reduce the number of cases of drug and substance abuse,” she emphasised.

Meanwhile, she said for the purpose of stringent monitoring, the committee would begin giving consistent monthly reports on drug and substance abuse from each agency such as the Royal Malaysian Police, Customs Department, National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) Sarawak, State Health Department and so on.

“Hopefully, with such integrated efforts, cooperation and commitment, we can reduce cases of drug and substance abuse,” Fatimah said, adding that non-enforcement programmes and success stories should also be reported.

Also present were AADK Sarawak director Wan Madihi Wan Salleh, head of Sarawak Narcotics Crime Investigation Department ACP Jasmirol Jamaluddin, Social Development Council (MPS) executive secretary Dr Zufar Yadi Brendan Abdullah, and representatives from other agencies.