We face a tough battle to free Malaysia from the drug menace. FILE PIC

THE government’s admission that it has failed in its war against drugs compels us to rethink and review measures that had been taken.

In the wake of the admission by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the issue must be viewed seriously by the authorities.

In his speech at the Malaysian Drug Prevention Association (Pemadam) 42nd annual general assembly last Sunday, Zahid said the number of addicts had increased by 14 per cent last year, while 58 per cent of convicts in jail were there for drug-related crimes.

He said the number of addicts last year was 30,847, while in 2015, the number was 26,668.

As for new addicts, the number had increased from 20,281 to 22,295 in the same time span.

The Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) would like to commend Zahid for admitting that we had failed, but it does not mean that we have to give up hope and throw in the towel.

Many countries have also failed in the war against drugs.

I have pointed out that our efforts to eradicate drugs were unsuccessful despite setting the target to make Malaysia free from illegal drugs in 2015 and having spent hundreds of millions of ringgit to tackle the menace.

We are facing an uphill battle to free Malaysia from the drug menace. Unlike the use of traditional drugs, such as heroin and morphine, the authorities must curb the abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS)-type drugs, also known as designer or synthetic drugs.

ATS are stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine, ecstasy and syabu, which are used at clubs and entertainment centres to provide a high for users.

The fact that more new synthetic drugs have been introduced shows that drug manufacturers and syndicates are becoming more innovative in attracting users.

New psychoactive substances can produce more dangerous hallucinations, with those consuming them becoming active, aggressive and crazy.

There is a need to review the approaches and strategies of government agencies in combating the problem.

We must study why the death sentence for those convicted of drug trafficking fails to deter drug trafficking.

We need a more intensified effort to combat drugs.

Drug pushers tempt the young by giving them sweets laced with drugs while designer drugs are easily available.

Synthetic drugs must be addressed through collaboration with government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and experts.

MCPF supports the Home Ministry’s national drugs policy, which has five thrusts: prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, enforcement, international cooperation and mitigation.

However, a policy’s success
depends on its implementation and the participation of everyone.

The government should proceed with its idea to adopt the National Blue Ocean Strategy to implement the plan by combining eight ministries, agencies and NGOs.

We need to have sustained campaigns and not seasonable ones to fight drug abuse.

Anti-drug campaigns should be carried out to ensure that the message instils awareness into Malaysians, especially youth, about the consequences of drug abuse.

As we failed to achieve our target in 2015, the government must set a new target to be drug-free.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Senior vice-chairman, Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation

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