SERDANG: There is a worrying drug abuse problem among secondary school students with 825 of them testing positive for drugs in the first three months of this year alone, the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) revealed.
In a drug test conducted on 29,583 students nationwide from January to March, Kedah recorded the highest number of students testing positive for drugs with 218 out of 2,762 students from 159 schools there.
"The number is increasing but we cannot release the official statistics for 2016 to compare the trend yet. We need to look into the risk factors," said AADK director general Datuk Dr Abd Halim Mohd Hussin.
Meanwhile, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said AADK will step up efforts to stem drug abuse among students nationwide.
"We are seriously looking into this matter and we will be meeting with the Education Department soon to discuss what immediate steps we can take,” he said at an excellent service award presentation ceremony to more than 400 AADK personnel.
He said students in schools come under the purview of the Education Ministry (MOE) and AADK will need its cooperation and permission to carry out enforcement activities in schools.
"The MOE can also talk to AADK or the police in tackling drug pushers in schools," he said.
Nur Jazlan added that AADK’s plan to stem drug abuse among the young includes taking tougher action against student drug pushers.
"Even though AADK is geared more towards education, awareness and rehabilitation, it has now been tasked to deal with the demand for drugs.
"It is strengthening enforcement activity and gazetting its own lock-ups, as well as seeking more funds to build the lock-ups to contain apprehended drug abusers," he said.
While these efforts could be hampered by recent budget cuts, Nur Jazlan said he expects the situation to improve with the country's economic situation.
"If AADK is going to take over from the police to deal with drug abusers, it needs to be equipped.
"We are in the process of asking for funds for AADK’s efforts to be more effective,” he said.
Nur Jazlan said the Government, through AADK, would support the fight against drugs to ensure that Malaysians, especially civil servants, do not become involved in the vice.
"The drug-free workplace programme will be expanded to cover all government ministries, departments and agencies," he added.
Nur Jazlan said 120 people from various government agency communications departments attended a briefing session and will be on the frontline in carrying out anti-drug education programmes in their respective agencies.