KOTA KINABALU: A total of RM746,000 has been approved for Sabah to address its growing drug abuse problem, with the money to be used to set up a recovery programme and acquire land for a new rehabilitation centre.
Chairing the first meeting for the year of the Sabah Drugs Eradication Action Council (MTMD), chief minister Hajiji Noor said firm action was needed to address the growing problem of drug abuse and social issues in Sabah.
The National Anti-Drug Agency (Nada) will be given the bulk of the funds, with RM500,000 given to the agency to carry out an integrated initiative programme to address drug addiction and social ills in high-risk areas, as well as a 30-acre plot of land to build a new rehabilitation centre (Puspen) in Tawau.
Currently, Sabah has one Puspen in Papar, which can accommodate up to 300 inmates.
The remaining RM246,000 will go to Universiti Malaysia Sabah to continue its happy family programme as a holistic approach to address the problem of drug addiction and social deviance.
Earlier, in his welcoming address, Hajiji said the MTMD had identified 12 high-risk drug areas in the state.
The areas are Likas, Inanam and Penampang in Kota Kinabalu; Luagan, Patikang and Tuarid Taud in Keningau; Tanjung Batu, Merotai, Balung in Tawau and three zones in Labuan which fall under the purview of Sabah Nada.
He said more attention would be given to the high-risk areas of Likas and Inanam as well as Luagan this year.
“Various activities and programmes will be implemented to reduce drug abuse in these three areas and turn them into green areas,” he said at the meeting held at the state administrative centre.
Hajiji urged all district officers who were also MTMD chairmen to take immediate action to reduce the problem in their respective areas.
“I want to see greater efforts this year to tackle the menace,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sabah police chief Hazani Ghazali told the meeting that the state was a transit point for drugs, especially syabu. Only 30% of the supply smuggled into the state go into the local market, he said.
Hazani said the number of drug-related arrests had gone up over the years except in 2020 due to the lockdown, but he expected it would go up this year as movement restrictions are relaxed.