July 29, 2019 / 10:16 AM / a month ago

Malaysian police chief says tough to combat drugs with addicts on force

FILE PHOTO: Malaysian Customs display 1187kg of Methamphetamine worth 71 million ringgit ($17.8 million) seized during a news conference in Nilai, Malaysia May 28, 2018. REUTERS/Angie Teo

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s police are struggling to rein in drug abuse because there are many addicts on the force, the southeast Asian nation’s police chief said on Monday, with methamphetamine emerging as the main culprit.

Malaysia is a key transit point for the drug, authorities say, with police in the past year seizing record amounts of crystal meth, or shabu as it is known domestically, with much of it coming from neighboring Myanmar.

“We can see the number of addicts doubling,” Inspector-General Abdul Hamid Bador told reporters.

“Not only among ordinary people, but among my own men. Every week we have surfaced, arrested our own men high on meth, shabu, and all this.”

Police were taking action against the addicts on the force, but the problem was huge, he said, without elaborating.

“I do not see how we can effectively ensure that the drug threat in this country is under control,” he added.

Malaysia’s anti-drug agency estimated the number of drug addicts at 25,267 last year, only a slight dip from 2017, but lower than the 2016 figure of nearly 31,000.

Nevertheless, Malaysia is considering dropping criminal penalties over small quantities of drugs intended for personal use. Fines and jail time currently await anyone found using drugs.

Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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