The Malaysian Law Minister, Liew Vui Keong, has urged the government to review the country's Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 to ensure that law enforcement efforts focus on drug supply, rather than punishing people with addiction.
An unofficial translation of the press release published today, on 17 January, follows:
At a meeting of the Cabinet Committee to Combat Drugs, chaired by the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, Dato 'Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Binti Dr. Wan Ismail, and held this morning in Putrajaya, discussions took place on matters raised during a previous meeting of the Committee.
The meeting was attended by the Honourable Minister of Interior, Tan Sri Dato' Haji Muhyiddin Yassin; the Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman; the Honourable Minister of Law, Datuk Liew Vui Keong; the Minister of National Unity and Social Wellbeing, National Integrity, Waythamoorthy Ponnusamy; and the National Anti-Drugs Agency and Royal Malaysian Police.
The Law Minister, Datuk Liew Vui Keong, expressed the view that drug use needs to be understood as a health issue and managed by the health sector, rather than the criminal justice system.
He said drug use and addiction were the result of complex biological and social factors, such as genetic predispositions, psychological factors and environmental influences. And, thus, that law enforcement should focus on drug trafficking instead of punishing people who use drugs.
He further added that the dominance of law enforcement on matters of illicit drug use was not only ineffective, but has created adverse health consequences for those affected and led to huge government spending.
This is evident when people who live with addiction are discharged from compulsory drug rehabilitation centres, only to relapse due to a lack of continued support and encouragement to help them fight this illness.
Thus, the Minister said, some sections of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 should be reviewed to amend the current punitive approach.
Datuk Liew Vui Keong
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law)
Putrajaya17 January 2019