Drug Dependant Amendment Bill faces setback

EFFORTS to pass the controversial Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) (Amendment) Bill 2024 have hit a bump after the proposed law was referred to two Parliamentary Special Select Committees (PSSC) for further engagement.

The Bill, which was supposed to have been put to the vote after its second reading in Dewan Rakyat yesterday, was instead referred to the PSSCs by Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

“To produce the best possible Bill – one that, once passed, will be implemented with the best results – I propose that, in accordance with our parliamentary Standing Order 62, I postpone the next reading of this Bill.

“The ministry will seek further views from the PSSC on health and the PSSC on security,” he said while wrapping his debates in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He added that the PSSC would invite all relevant stakeholders, including Members of Parliament (MPs), legal experts and NGOs for further feedback to fine-tune the Bill before bringing it back to the August hall.

On July 2, the proposed amendments to the Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act were tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat.

The proposed law sought to differentiate the interpretation of a drug- or substance-dependant person and a substance misuser while also widening the scope of treatment and rehabilitation.

However, the proposed drug rehabilitation law received strong criticism from medical groups, including several government backbenchers.

Earlier during debates, Ramkarpal Singh (PH-Bukit Gelugor) asked Saifuddin to explain the required qualification of the rehabilitation officers since it was not clearly spelled out under the law.To this, Saifuddin said the rehabilitation officers held various qualifications related to psychology and counselling, including having attended internationally recognised courses related to the subjects.

“It is just that we do not publicise the matter of their competency.

“They have more than 70,000 clients at the community level and have contributed to the local communities for more than 40 years.

“Their success rate stands at 75%,” he explained.

Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham (PH-Beruas) also questioned whether the Bill contradicted the Dangerous Drug Acts 1952 (DDA) and whether there would be any legal ramifications against those who voluntarily surrendered to undergo treatment at rehabilitation centres.

Following feedback from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, he said the proposed amendments would not contradict the DDA which was still much needed by the police, or result in ramifications against those seeking voluntary treatment.

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Dewan Rakyat , drug , Bill


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