“Treatment instead of punishment” for drug abusers under Malaysia’s new law
The country's Home Minister aims for the bill to be discussed in Parliament by this year
Malaysia’s Home Minister, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, has stated that a new law on drug and substance abuse is currently in the works.
First mentioned to the public back in February, the new law aims to prioritise the treatment of drug addicts by providing the option of rehabilitation instead of sending them straight to prison (which happens to be the current practice).
At a press conference on Monday, May 15, Ismail mentioned that the ministry has planned the present the bill to the Cabinet in July. Once approved, a draft will be prepared to be tabled in Parliament within the year.
Back in February when the bill was first introduced to the public, Ismail mentioned “The most important aspect will be treatment instead of punishment,” and that the new law would push for increased accessibility towards the rehabilitation of addicts within a comprehensive legal framework.
The new law was to be named the Drug and Substance Abuse (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act, which would replace the Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act 1983. Then in March, a new title was drafted; The Misuse of Drugs and Substances (Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation).
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Ismail further explains on the two types of rehabilitation programmes drafted in the new law, which will either involve the National Anti-Drugs Agency (AADK), the community, or both.
"Rehabilitation under the AADK will take two years and the user comes out and joins another programme for two years in the community. If the drug user is sent to rehabilitation programmes in the community, it will be three years," he explains.
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The new law also aims to overcome the problem of prison overcrowding by decriminalising minor drug offences.
Malaysia has 39 prisons with a combined capacity of 65,000 inmates. However, the current combined population of those prisons is around 74,459.
Via The Star
Amira Waworuntu is Mixmag Asia’s Managing Editor, follow her on Instagram.