ALOR SETAR,. The state government will take firm action by destroying ketum farms set up without permission from relevant authorities, as misuse of the leaves grows increasingly rampant.
Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir said the move which will utilise law under the National Land Code would enable the state government to abolish more than 100 hectares of ketum farms in Kedah.
He said based on records, more than 80 hectares of illegal ketum farms were found in Padang Terap, Kubang Pasu (22 hectares), Yan (9), Sik (3) and in small quantities in several other areas.
“Legal restrictions have made it difficult to enforce (the closure of the farms) in the country, so at the state-level, we will use the National Land Code on agricultural conditions, where ketum growing is illegal. It is necessary to obtain permission from the health minister to grow them (legally).
“This is also in line with the outcome of the previous Cabinet Committee meeting on Combating Drug Abuse where it was agreed that the relevant acts should be amended to make it an offence to plant ketum without permission, however, it will take time for it to be implemented,” he told reporters here, today.
Earlier, Mukhriz attended the Anti-Drug Enforcement Action Council meeting with National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) director Gen Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah at Wisma Darul Aman, here.
Mukhriz said among the actions that could be taken once the enforcement action comes into force is to give two warnings, after which, the state government would not hesitate to destroy the crops on the field.
“This action should be taken because if we look at the five years prior to August 2018, 13,296 drug addicts were detected in Kedah including 10,215 youths between the ages of 19 and 39. Of that number, the biggest problem faced by Kedah compared to other states is ketum leaves abuse.
Asked whether land used growing ketum leaves would be seized, Mukhriz said the matter would be tabled at the state executive council meeting tomorrow, and if it was agreed, a lot of follow-up actions could be taken to address the problem in the state. — Bernama