New law on drug abuse in the works

SERDANG: A new law on drug and substance abuse is expected to be tabled in Parliament later this year, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

The Home Minister said the Drugs and Substance Abuse (Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation) Bill is to replace the Drug Addict (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act.

Saifuddin said the government was targeting to present the Bill to the Cabinet in July, while working towards a first reading in Parliament later this year.

“Once approval is given by the Cabinet, we will work with the Attorney General’s Chambers to prepare a draft.

“If everything goes according to plan, the first reading will be made in Parliament this year,” he said.

Saifuddin said the new law would also focus on substance abuse in small doses.

“The idea is to decriminalise it, while also presenting the option of referring offenders to rehabilitation institutes under the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) and not straight to jail as per current practice.

“We have also been briefed on this by the AADK,” he told reporters after attending the ministry’s Hari Raya open house celebration at the Malaysian Agro Exposition Park (MAEPS) yesterday.

Separately, he said 8,000 citizenship applications were processed as of the first week of May this year.

“Main focus was placed on citizenship applications for adopted children. Children without any identification documents present a continuous problem as it will be harder to receive an education, among others.

“I have also personally gone through cases where some of these stateless children are at the age where their peers are enrolled in university or college,” he said.

Earlier this year, Saifuddin told Parliament that the ministry was targeting to process at least 10,000 applications for citizenship this year.

“We still have seven months to go so I am confident of reaching this target of 10,000,” he said, thanking non-governmental organisations which were engaging with him.

He also recalled meeting a 13-year-old named Sonia, who got her citizenship recently, during the Madani Hari Raya Open House in Gombak on Sunday.

“She is a bright girl, with her adoptive parents having made the citizenship application a decade ago, when she was just three.”

He acknowledged that 10 years was just too long a wait.

He added that an important announcement regarding Immigration Department services would be announced today.

“It would be in regard to overcoming crowds at passport offices,” he said.

Also present at the event were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani.

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