SINGAPORE: Asean has reaffirmed its zero tolerance stand against drugs in the region and has rejected any suggestion to legalise certain types of drugs.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said there was suggestion from some Western countries to legalise some types of drugs.
“We have decided that this cannot be accepted as studies have shown that some countries which legalised drugs are now facing a rising number of drug abuse,” he told reporters after attending the 5th Asean Ministerial meeting on drug matters here yesterday.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said laws related to illicit drugs remained strict in Malaysia and the penalty for breaking them was severe.
“Earlier this year we were faced with some demand to legalise the use of cannabis for personal consumption and to cultivate the kratom plant for export purposes.
“In the best interest of the people, the government has rejected these ideas. We believe that the legalisation of such drugs will bring more harm to the people,” he added.
Dr Ahmad Zahid also reaffirmed Malaysia’s stand about declaring total war against drugs especially addressing the drug problem through a comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach between demand and supply reduction.
He said 48% of the prison population in prisons were there due to drug-related crimes.
On whether Malaysia will be looking at the possibility of adopting similar methods as the Philippines’ war on drugs, he said: “Philippines has its own methods, similarly Singapore and Malaysia.
“But it is not impossible for us to learn from their experiences but we may not fully use all these methods.”
On the use of the internet by drug dealers to reach out to new users, Dr Ahmad Zahid said Bukit Aman was now monitoring the cyberspace not just for terrorism related activities but to intercept communication among drug dealers.
In his opening remark, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the issue of drug dealers using the “Dark Net” to attract new drug users was a growing one.
“Global Drug Survey found that one in 10 drug users surveyed in 2015 purchased drugs on the internet at least once, double those surveyed in 2013,” he said.
He added that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated over three million heroin users and five million methamphetamine users in East and South-East Asia.
Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security, said 22% of the world’s land area used for opium poppy cultivation were in the Golden Triangle.
“The region is also one of the largest and fastest growing methamphetamine markets in the world.
“Between 2009 and 2014, the quantity of methamphetamine seized in East and South-East Asia almost quadrupled to close to 50 tonnes,” he added.
He also outlined three areas for Asean to focus on: enhancing efforts to protect the young from drugs; enhancing legislative measures against drugs and syndicates; and enhancing collaboration within Asean and partner countries.
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