KUCHING: Advanced scanners that cost upwards of RM4mil each could be installed at more Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complexes around the country next year.
The machines are considered by anti-illegal drug trade enforcers as potentially Malaysia’s most needed first line of defence.
Proposals for the machines were included in Budget 2014 considerations, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
“It’s in the Customs Department’s proposal. We want to set them up at the CIQs along Kelantan first. The machines cost a lot but when it comes to the safety and well-being of this country, we should not compromise.
“As it stands, to check just one lorry thoroughly at CIQs takes two hours. There are hundreds and thousands of lorries at the CIQs. You can’t slow the flow of trucks. We have an economic flow we need to maintain.”
Wan Junaidi said Singapore was being affected by the Malaysian authorities’ lower-than-ideal rate of illegal drug detection at our own borders.
“What goes through us ends up in Singapore too. We are putting the Singaporean authorities in dilemma too.”
Wan Junaidi was speaking at a press conference here, after officiating at a meet-the-clients event at Kuching’s Cure, Care and Rehabilitation Centre at KM10, Jalan Penrissen.
He said the illegal drug trade was due to complex regional issues, which required a “synchronisation of better laws” across multiple countries.
He said one of the world’s largest source of illegal drugs, the “Golden Triangle”, was within South-East Asia, and that farmers who depended on poppy estates must first be encouraged by their own governments to embark on different crops.
On whether Malaysia could ever be “drug free” Wan Junaidi replied, “that’s so difficult to achieve”. He also said Malaysia’s huge tourism industry was a contributing factor.
“Tourism is a double-edged sword. We spend so much on developing our tourism. Today, tourism is the third largest GDP contributor in Malaysia. The industry is huge, which brings us wealth, but also, unfortunately, demand for illegal trades like drugs. That’s why it comes back to better border control.”
On the drug rehabilitation centre, he said he was happy to note efforts to help patients with their livelihoods.
“At the centre, we rehabilitate them and we help address their employment issues. It’s all about trying to help he or she fit back into society after rehabilitation from drugs.”