Aggressive measures to curb drug abuse

LUNDU: A total of 11,075 people in Sarawak were found to be involved in drug and substance abuse in 2018, said Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Sri Fatimah Abdullah.

Citing statistics from the Royal Malaysian Police, she said the state government would continue to carry out aggressive measures throughout the state to address drug and substance abuse issues.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) mentioned that for each reported case, there were four other unreported individuals.

“Based on the statistics, this means the state may have a total of 55,000 drug addicts,” she said when officiating at an Enhancement Action Plan for Tackling Drug and Substance Abuse workshop, held in Sematan yesterday.

She also revealed that cases involving misuse of substances not considered illegal drugs such as glue inhalation, Dextromethorphan pills and Kratom leaves (Daun Ketum/Mitragyna speciosa) had shown a worrying indication.

“In 2016, the Narcotics Branch from Customs Department Sarawak discovered one case involving Kratom leaves with a total of 2,591 grammes and in 2017, the cases increased to five with a total of 5,328 grammes seized,” she said.

With the increasing number of arrests, Fatimah said, this had placed enforcement and non-enforcement interventions on drugs and substances as the most efficient and effective strategy to combat the issue in Sarawak.

“Statistics from the Royal Malaysian Police Sarawak contingent also shows an increasing trend in the number of cases related to drug and substance trafficking in Sarawak between 2016 and 2018.

“The Prisons Department reported an increasing trend of the number of prisoners involved in drug and substance issues in prisons in Sarawak, from 417 in 2017 up to 660 in 2018,” she cited.

Expressing her concern on the increasing trend involving drugs, Fatimah said everyone must inculcate a sense of care.

“Strategic social intervention and initiatives are required to eradicate social ills here in Sarawak, particularly pertinent ones, like illicit drug and substance abuse and disorders.

“Organising related workshops to address peculiar social development issues will help address the cycle of illicit drug and substance abuse issues,” she added.

Fatimah (seated centre) with 63 participants from relevant stakeholders, strategic partners and civil society at the workshop programme held at Sematan yesterday.