KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — Padang Besar MP Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin today demanded the Pakatan Harapan government decide once and for all whether to ban or legalise ketum, a medicinal plant known to be abused by drug users.
He told reporters at the Dewan Rakyat that the government has been inconsistent on whether it is a crime to grow, possess or use ketum.
“Of late the government said it is willing to legalise ketum, yet today it said it will not do so. This only serves to confuse the rakyat,” Zahidi said.
If the proposal to permit the growing of ketum is approved, he said it could have far-reaching effects, such as providing a measure of stability to rubber planters who faced an uncertain economic situation next year.
“They face a problem with low rubber prices, so it has been proposed that small scale farmers can grow ketum to supplement their income.
“So long as the ketum is for medical purposes and not misused, then it is not an issue,” Zahidi said, adding that ketum growing has the potential to bring in billions and could be another source of government revenue.
“From a medical point of view, research conducted in universities have indicated that ketum could bring about many positive benefits,” he said.
During a National Anti-Drugs Agency committee meeting earlier today, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said ketum growing should be banned in the country before its use can become widespread.
He proposed the issue should be brought before the Cabinet to decide upon.