More canine crimefighters needed to combat drug scourge

Abdul Karim (left) and others are seen at the state-level "Fight Against Drugs" meeting.

KUCHING, March 27: The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports is planning to expand the K9 dog unit to fight crime, especially the scourge of drugs in the state.

Its minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the drug menace had reached concerning levels despite countless efforts to curb it and the authorities needed to gain the upper hand.

“At this moment, we only have six dogs to fight against drugs in Sarawak. Three belongs to Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and another three with Royal Malaysian Customs Department. I am willing to bring this matter up to the state cabinet if the federal government has difficulties buying or importing these K9 dogs. We seriously need more.

“Sarawak is a very big state, and six dogs to look after our borders, airports and ports are definitely not sufficient. These special K9 dogs can do what humans cannot do,” Abdul Karim said after chairing the state level “Fight Against Drugs” meeting today.

“Our law enforcement agencies can enhance their success rate against drug traffickers by using specially-trained sniffer dogs. The use of special X-ray machines would help but due to the ingenious ways that drug mules stash their drugs, sniffer dogs well-trained in detection will be much better,” he added.

Abdul Karim called on everyone to work together to find the right formula in the war against drugs and gave assurance the country would not emulate Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s method of sanctioning law enforcers to gun down drug users.

Meanwhile, he said the number of drug users, addicts and drug-related offences continues to rise in Sarawak over the years, raising concerns about how to move forward and whether the state is taking the right approach.

“Although the figures are not as huge as in Peninsular Malaysia, but this is a serious very problem. Drug abusers are increasingly turning to cheaper synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine (syabu),” Abdul Karim said.

He said these types of drugs are very popular now due to their relatively cheap prices.

“It is alarming as with these types of drugs being very cheap, more people will be able to buy them, hence increasing the number of drug abusers and pushers in the country,” he said

In 2017, Sarawak saw an increase in seizures of almost all drug types.

Methamphetamine and ketamin remain the top two drugs of choice, followed by cannabis and ecstasy.

In 2017, Sarawak seized 28.1kg methamphetamine, compared to 9.3kg in 2016; 4.9kg of ketamin, compared to 1.5kg in 2016; 10.4kg of cannabis, compared to 10.1kg in 2016 and 3.2kg of ecstasy pills, compared to 651 grams in 2016.

Although there is currently no known production of illicit drugs in Sarawak, Abdul Karim assured that all related enforcement agencies are continuously watching. — DayakDaily