Fatimah (left) and Jasmirol showing the routes smugglers use to bring drugs into Sarawak. — Photo by Roy Emmor

KUCHING: The State Cabinet has agreed to let the State Security Council take over the management of drug and substance abuse from the Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development.

This is because the problem has become a threat to the state's security, said Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.

“Students are involved in drugs and substance abuse and it is posing a threat to the state's security, so fighting the problem will be under the council, chaired by the chief minister and our ministry will manage in terms of administration," she told a press conference at her office yesterday.

“A committee consisting of the police, Customs Department, National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK), Education Ministry and Health Ministry will give a monthly integrated report on the drug and substance abuse in the state."

Fatimah pointed out Sarawak is a vast state and drug traffickers can use many routes by land, air and sea to smuggle and distribute drugs in the state.

As such, among the challenges faced in combating drugs abuse in the state is the need for more sophisticated equipment and logistics support and the State Security Council is in a better position to acquire the funds to procure these equipment, vehicles, boats and even planes.

Fatimah said as of June this year 5,077 people had been arrested for drugs and substance abuse compared to 8,506 for the whole of 2019.

Of those arrested this year 4,789 or 94.3 per cent were men.

In the ethnic breakdown of those arrested, 2016 or 39.7 percent were Malays, 1,221 or 24 per cent were Chinese and 834 or 16.43 per cent were Iban and the rest were from the other races.

The highest number of those caught were in the 25-29 years old age group with 1,268 arrests (25 per cent), followed by 19-24 years old age group with 1,167 arrests (23 per cent) and 30-34 years old age group with 996 arrests (19.6 per cent).

“The highest number of those arrested was the unemployed with 5,018 or 98.9 per cent, followed by those who were employed or had some occupation with 21 arrests and students with 19 arrests," she said.

The police and Customs Department as of June this year seized 17,523 grammes of syabu, 3,345 grammes of marijuana, 3,639.08 grammes of ketamine, 39,937 ecstasy pills, 4,052.16 grammes of ecstacy powder, 5,656 grammes of Eramine 5 powder and 1,536 Nospan pills, with total value of RM6 million.

As of June this year, the number of people under surveillance increased to 1,784 people compared to 1,670 for the whole of last year, she said.

“I urge the public to play their role in helping the government to actively combat drug abuse in their own community by channelling information to the enforcement agencies via the police Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID) hotline at 012-2087222, AADK hotline at 019-6262233 or 03-89112233," Fatimah said.

Among those present at the press conference were State Customs Department deputy director Hamisan Kalip, AADK Sarawak director Wan Madihi Wan Salleh and NCID head ACP Jasmirol Jamaluddin.

>Sources: Borneo Post Online