By Ashley Sim
KUCHING, Dec 4: The Ministry of Women, Childhood, and Community Wellbeing Development (KPWK) Sarawak and the Sarawak Malaysian Prison Department have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together to address the issue of drug and substance abuse in Sarawak.
The programmes listed in the MOU, according to KPWK minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, are a new initiative by the Sarawak government through the ministry’s Social Development Council (MPS).
“The MOU is to encourage cooperation in the field of sharing correctional community data or statistics for prisoners and ex-prisoners who are serving sentences for drug offences in order to address the issue of drug and substance abuse in Sarawak.
“We also will train and increase the capacity of the correctional community before and after the release in Sarawak. And, we also will organise training and integrated capacity building for staff from the Sarawak State Prison who are involved in the intervention of drug and substance abuse issues in Sarawak.
“Finally, we will collaborate to organise programmes that involve empowerment, support, and social intervention for the correctional community in Sarawak,” she told reporters following the MOU exchange function today at the Baitul Makmur II building, Petra Jaya here.
She thanked the State government for providing the ministry with the programme’s budget for 2024 amounting to RM3.75 million.
Meanwhile, according to Sarawak Prison director, Mohamad Andri Md Ridzwan, the State government is collaborating with the Malaysian Prison Department and the Ministry of Home Affairs for the first ever programme held in the nation to address the issue of drug and substance abuse within the correctional community
“It’s a collaboration between the federal government and the State government. Because we see the need for continuous intervention so that they (correctional community) can stand on their own two feet and continue their lives. There will be a biological addiction if such support is not available,” he noted.
Additionally, Mohamad Andri disclosed that the programme is being gradually implemented in collaboration with KPWK and MPS. They have been working towards identifying a principle that can be implemented effectively.
“That’s why we have this MOU. And in 2024, we will implement the 2024 plan in an all-out way. But we will try to start the process from now on. We have seen the effects. And actually, in the case of Sarawak, the incarceration rate in Sarawak is the lowest in Malaysia. The rate of recidivism in Sarawak is also the lowest,” he added. — DayakDaily