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MPs call for fairness to drug users’ families

 | April 6, 2011

The government should not treat non-offending drug-users like criminals, but treat each case individually, say Devaraj and Boon Chye.

KUALA LUMPUR: Two MPs today decried the tendency of enforcement agencies to treat drug users as if they were criminals.

The authorities must be more sensitive to the suffering of the families of non-offending drug users locked up for indefinite periods, said Sungai Siput MP Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj Gopeng MP Lee Boon Chye.

They were speaking to reporters at Parliament in the presence of Vasanthi Marimuthu, whose husband, Suresh Gnanaprakam, has been detained in a drug rehabilitation centre near Kulim since January.

Jeyakumar said Suresh was a recreational drug user. He was arrested after a urine test turned up positive.

“My husband is not a bad man,” Vasanthi said. “He does not act harshly with me or my children. And he has not been involved in crimes.”

She said Suresh was her family’s primary bread winners and since his arrest she and her three children had been trying to survive on the RM690 a month she earns as a factory worker.

Devaraj said that there was something wrong with a system in which drug users were treated like criminals who commit drug-related offences.

“If you get into jail for fighting or stealing or other offences because you took drugs, then fine,” he said. “But why is drug-taking criminalised?”

Lee said the government needed to adopt a better approach when it came to dealing with drug users.

“Not many people will symphatise with drug addicts or users, but we have to look at the state of their families,” he said.

He said the authorities needed to look at every case individually so to ensure that they were not actually punishing families.


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