Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

SIBU: The country needs to undertake a drastic review of its existing strategy and methods to deal with drug-related issues, said Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

According to him, the time has come for such steps to be taken as existing strategy and methods to deal with the problem has only shown a slight improvement despite various measures introduced to address it.

He recalled that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was recently reported to have said that drug abuse prevention programmes in the country are still not meeting their objectives despite the large amount of allocation channelled for the purpose.

“The concern raised by Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, is valid and I have been consistent in urging the relevant authorities to review their efforts and strategies to deal with the drug problem.

“I agree that efforts have been made but there is no solution in sight and the problem does not seem to end. Even the death penalty imposed on convicted drug traffickers has not led to its prevention.

“Despite the weekly operations and the uncovering of drug syndicates and manufacturing laboratories, it only appears to be the tip of the iceberg and there is no enduring solution to the problem,” Lee said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Wan Azizah had said drug addicts still make up the majority of the prison population in the country, citing a report by the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) which showed 25,922 cases of drug abuse last year, out of which 18,440 were new cases and 7,482 involved repeat offenders.

Lee said the MCPF are hoping to propose the setting-up of a high-powered ministerial committee to focus entirely on drug problem, and to find new and effective strategies to eradicate the menace which remains the country’s biggest social and safety issue since the 1980s.

Based on data from AADK, the total number of drug addicts detected nationwide decreased by 16 per cent in 2017 compared to 2016, while the number of new addicts and recurring addicts detected in 2017 also decreased by 19.6 per cent and 5.5 per cent, respectively.

In 2016, statistics showed that the number of addicts had increased by 14 per cent compared to 2015 while 58 per cent of convicts in jail were there for drug-related crimes.

“I hope the proposed ministerial committee could find more effective ways and approaches to deal with the drug problem from all angles, especially on prevention, enforcement, rehabilitation and international cooperation,” Lee added.

He said the proposed committee could act to rally all agencies, non-governmental organisations, volunteer bodies and religious organisations as well as parents to work together to help curb the drug problem and work towards zero-tolerance towards drugs.