PUTRAJAYA: Battling the illegal drug menace is top on the list of the Home Ministry’s priorities in combating crime, says its minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin.
After spending 100 days in office, Hamzah believes that drugs remain the country’s “biggest enemy”, as even the movement control order (MCO) has failed to put the brakes on narcotics crime.
“During the first phase of the MCO, there were 77 drug-related cases. It continues to increase during MCO2 (121 cases), MCO3 (151), the first extended MCO phase (175) and the second extended MCO phase (237).
“The crime rate in the country went down by 45.2% throughout the MCO as obviously, there’s a restriction on movement.
“But despite that, narcotics crime continues to occur. It goes on, ” Hamzah said.
“This shows we must continue to focus on eradicating the drug menace, ” he said during an interview at his ministry in conjunction with his 100th day in office.
Hamzah said fighting crime will be his main agenda as Home Minister, but with an extra focus on drugs as it is the biggest crime problem plaguing the country.
“The number of arrests related to drugs has become bigger and bigger.
“It remains our main enemy, ” he added.
One area Hamzah is looking to fix is beefing up the police’s Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (JSJN) to give it better ammunition against drug crime.
“I want to increase the number of personnel in the JSJN because we are giving narcotics crime an extra focus.”
The Larut MP said the Home Ministry will also continue working with the Health Ministry to update the list of dangerous drugs, which he said is expanding globally.
“The list of dangerous drugs that exist in the world is now nearing 1,000.
“However, the list produced by our Health Ministry is not even 50. Therefore, we want to update our list so that we can fight drug trafficking more efficiently.
“The issue is when drug traffickers bring in drugs that are not in our list, we have to go through a lot of hassle to test them out.
“Therefore, we will work closely with the Health Ministry on this.”
Besides battling drugs, Hamzah said the country’s porous borders will also be another issue that he intends to tackle.
“The ministry is currently working out on a strategic plan on the issue of porous borders. Once the plan is ready, we will present it to the Cabinet for approval. The process will take a few months.
“I have visited the country’s borders, be it in Sabah, Sarawak, the northern and southern borders in Peninsular Malaysia to see for myself the issues they face there.”
Over the weekend, Hamzah also had a working visit to Sabah. The ministry has identified 37 landing points for illegal immigrants in 10 of the state’s districts.
Hamzah said Pulau Sebatik, an island which is split in the middle to divide Malaysia and Indonesia territories, is an example of a porous national border.
“People can easily go between countries on the same island. The border from east to west on the island is about 30km long. Should we build a fence there? We need to come up with cost-effective ideas to resolve these border problems.
“These kinds of issues will be addressed in the strategic plan, ” he added.
Hamzah said he is grateful to have Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as his predecessor as Home Minister.
“As Home Minister, I want the country to be peaceful, in terms of security. I think we did very well so far, in the last couple of months.
“I learnt a lot from the Prime Minister, who himself is the former home minister, ” he said.