Drug rehab chief pushes reformed addicts over foreign workers

John Bunyan
National Anti-Drugs Agency director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah at a press conference after visiting the Perlop Cure and Care Rehabilitation Centre in Sungai Siput September 5, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib

SUNGAI SIPUT, Sept 5 — National Anti-Drugs Agency director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah urged the government today to consider policies that will encourage firms to recruit rehabilitated addicts to ease Malaysia’s reliance on migrant labour.

He said this would also alleviate recidivism among former addicts due to difficulty in securing employment.

“From January 2013 to June 2018, there are 45,778 former drug addicts who relapsed the offence and we have 108,563 new drug addicts for the same period. The government should come with plans or policy to help them in finding jobs.

“They should rope in employers and private sectors to work together with the government in providing jobs for the former drug addicts,” he told reporters after visiting the Perlop Cure and Care Rehabilitation Centre here.

He suggested tax reliefs for employers who opt for this route.

The agency could only help to wean the addicts off their drug habit but was unable to help them with job placements, he said.

“We can assure the inmates released from the centres are clean, but what forces them to go back to their past life is lack of job opportunities and society’s unwillingness to accept them,” he added.

Zulkifli pointed out that three quarters of reformed addicts are between the ages of 19 and 39, which he said made them ideal to be workers.

He said he will meet with the Human Resources Ministry, Education Ministry and Health Ministry to explore possible measures.

Zulkifli disclosed that his agency needs RM5 million annually to operate the 27 rehabilitation centres nationwide, saying it costs approximately RM32,000 to house one inmate for a year.

“Apart from that, the facilities at the centres also need to be upgraded as they are old,” he said.

Despite this, he stressed that the primary focus should be on prevention rather than cure.

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