PETALING JAYA: A drug policy reform advocate has raised concerns over proposed amendments to the Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act 1983, saying the Bill has “serious flaws”.

Samantha Chong questioned the proposed increased powers of the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) officers under the planned amendments, allowing them to impose conditions on parents and certify if someone is a drug dependant, as well as decide the treatment method.

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“Drug use disorder is a medical condition and a specialised area,” she said of the proposed amendments to Section 8 of the Act.

In a series of tweets on X on Tuesday (July 2), Chong said many of the “problematic sections” in the Act were also not addressed.

“Doctors can still be punished if they don’t report patients receiving drug use disorder treatment to the AADK.

“Will someone seek help if they know their doctor must report them?” she asked.

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Chong, a former deputy public prosecutor, also voiced concerns over proposed amendments to Section 9.

Under the changes, guardians or those who have reasons to believe that a minor is drug- or substance-dependent or a misuser can apply for the minor to receive treatment and rehabilitation.

The minor must appear before a rehabilitation officer and if so required, the minor’s parent or guardian shall also attend the treatment and rehabilitation programme.

Guardians or parents who fail to comply with the conditions imposed will be liable to a fine of up to RM5,000.

“Are you a parent? If your child gets into drugs and you fail to comply with conditions imposed by AADK on you, you can be fined RM5,000. What if you can’t pay?” Chong said, adding that drugs affect the poorest of society.

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With the Bill scheduled for debate on Wednesday (July 3), Chong questioned the rush to pass it as it would impact millions of people.

“Was there proper consultation with the affected communities and experts?

“Were MPs given enough time to study the Bill?” she said, adding that the amendments also did not address prison overcrowding.

Chong said there were two related laws on drug use, citing the Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act 1983 and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, and both needed to be amended together.

“If not, people will still be afraid to get help as they can still be arrested and sent to prison under the Dangerous Drugs Act,” she said.

She also questioned if the AADK is taking over the Prisons Department’s role with community service being a punishment under the proposed changes.

“While we appreciate AADK’s intentions to resolve problematic drug use, more thought and consultation need to be done.

“Please reach out to your MPs. We must not rush such an important law,” she said.

On Tuesday, amendments to the Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act were tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat.

The amendments, tabled by Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, aim to widen the scope of treatment and rehabilitation for addicts.