KUCHING: Drug addict cases in the state have increased over time according to Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) statistics.
In 2015, 7,173 cases of drug use have been reported with 6,304 people arrested by the police. Some 297 suppliers who were found in possession of drugs were also arrested.
From January to June this year, 3,124 arrests had been made. Of that number, 216 drug users were below 18 years old and mostly male.
Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said her ministry would need to work strategically with PDRM, especially with the narcotics department.
“We view this as a serious issue because there are young children involved.
“Drug addiction is not a stand-alone problem, it is always linked to other issues like crime,” she said after her ministry’s monthly meeting at Bangunan Baitulmakmur recently.
The crimes related to drug use were stealing and breaking and entering, among others.
“It is a very difficult issue to resolve because once hooked on drugs, it is very difficult to get them clean.
“We have heard of recurring cases among inmates at the rehabilitation centre,” she said.
During the Anti-Homeless operation by relevant agencies in Kuching last month, one 11-year-old boy tested positive for drugs in his urine test.
Fatimah said drug addicts had not been as young as those discovered now and that the right approach to tackle the problem had to be formulated.
“We have to look for fresh ideas now and also what works and what does not so that we do not use the same method and get unsatisfactory results.
“Although the number is small, we have to nip the problem in the bud by having a holistic or inter-agency approach that will ensure results.
“It is not going to be easy, that’s why the problem is there,” she said.
The operation in Kuching found three homeless individuals in the first round and another four during the second round – two homeless individuals found under the bridge admitted to drug use and were under the influence of alcohol.
In Bintulu, the operation found four homeless individuals including one Indonesian woman during their walkabout. One individual was also found to be mentally unstable.
The homeless individuals were placed at a temporary shelter whereas the mentally unstable person was sent for a psychiatric evaluation before being placed in a shelter.
“We will continue the operation in stages not just in Kuching, but also other towns in Sarawak.
“We want to ensure that the homeless will not become a big issue.
“Analysis and classification of the homeless should be made and the root cause of the problem should be found, be it poverty, drugs or family problems,” said Fatimah.