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Oleh/By		:	DATO' SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD 
Tempat/Venue 	: 	THE MERLIN HOTEL, KUALA LUMPUR 
Tarikh/Date 	: 	22/09/86 
Tajuk/Title  	: 	THE OPENING OF THE UNITED NATIONS 
			EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON RECOMMENDED 
			METHODS OF TESTING CANNABIS AND 
			AMPHETAMINE -- 
			METHAMPHETAMINE ANALYSIS 




Mr Chairman; Your Excellencies; Distinguished Participants; Ladies and
Gentlemen.

I am very happy to be here this morning to address you at this meeting of
the United Nations Expert Group on Recommended Methods of Testing Cannabis
and Amphetamine- Methamphetamine Analysis. May I congratulate the United
Nations Division on Narcotic Drugs for its initiative and effort in
organising this meeting, in collaboration with the Malaysian
Government. Before I proceed further, I would like to extend a warm
welcome to all participants of this meeting to Malaysia and wish them
every success in their deliberations during the next five days.

2. Malaysia deems it an honour as well as a responsibility to host this
meeting. We attach the utmost importance and priority to combatting all
aspects of illicit drug problem. The drug menace in many countries has
reached alarming proportions. In Malaysia, the Government regards it as a
threat to our security. The Malaysian Government has vowed to combat it
with all its available resources. We believe that if drug abuse is left
unchecked the whole fabric of society will eventually collapse. Certainly
it will stunt the growth and well-being of this country.

3. There must be greater efforts too by other member countries of the
United Nations to wage this war against drug abuse at all stages from the
production stage to the cure and rehabilitation of addicts. No one country
can mount an effective fight against drug on its own. This
problemtranscends all national boundaries, and every country and every
agency must therefore cooperate and coordinate their fight.

4. At this meeting I note that you have experts from many countries and
your presence here is proof of the support of the international community
in solving our common problem. I look forward to more global efforts and
our country will, of course, continue to be actively involved. There must
be total commitment by world leaders to combat this menace. This
commitment must come from the highest political level. I need not
reiterate our commitment to this fight in Malaysia.

Ladies and gentlemen; 

5. Malaysia acknowledges that it faces a serious drug problem and to
overcome it the Government has adopted various strategies and
programmes. In this context, a National Narcotics Action Plan outlining
the objectives, strategies, programmes, implementation and evaluation
procedures have been formulated. Our strategy now is to place greater
emphasis on primary prevention while maintaining our aggressive law
enforcement posture. The aim is to inculcate in our youth a total
rejection of drugs because it is the most evil of human vices.

6. Even though prevention efforts may not bring immediate results, it
would be more effective in the long run. This would require the support
and involvement of all sectors in the community. As the drug problem is a
problem of the society, Government efforts alone will not be sufficient to
contain the threat. The community must play a major role in the war
against drugs. It requires every sector, every group in society to play
their appropriate role, commensurate with their knowledge and position in
society.

7. To support the enforcement and preventive measures, the Malaysian
Government has promulgated tough drug laws to deter these merchants of
misery and death from carrying out their activities in Malaysia and if
they run foul of the law they will face the consequences of their
unscrupulous actions. These laws have undergone various amendments in the
last decade to make them more effective for their intended purposes. One
of the most significant of these is the provision for mandatory death
sentence for convicted drug traffickers, which came into force in April
1983. We make no apology for our tough drug laws. We regard the death
penalty not just as a deterrent but an appropriate punishment for these
criminals for they are worse than murderers. They deliberately spread
misery and death in their quest for easy wealth. We will continue to hang
them until none is left who wish to profit from this vicious crime.

8. Another recent legislation to give more clout to our authorities is the
power to detain without trial, on cogent evidence, suspected masterminds
and kingpins of drug syndicates. A draft legislation on confiscation of
suspected profits and proceeds derived from illicit drug trafficking is
now under active consideration by the Malaysian Government. The proposed
legislation, when passed by Parliament, will leave the traffickers with
nothing even for those who survive them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

9. The successful application of any law depends on the implementation of
a chain of activities: from the preliminary information gathering,
investigation, arrest of suspects and seizure of the drugs, laboratory
analysis of the drug exhibits, on to the court trial and finally
conviction and sentencing of the guilty person. However, to ensure that
there is no miscarriage of justice, this 'chain' must, before the eyes of
the law, be kept unbroken. As the strength of the chain rests on its
weakest 'link', each of these activities must be performed with the
highest level of competency and proficiency to ensure that they are able
to withstand the rigorous requirements of the court.

10. In this connection, the examination of the drug exhibits is a very
important 'link' in this chain of evidence and the scientific experts have
a very crucial role to play in the overall efforts of the government to
stamp out the drug menace; otherwise all our efforts will be futile. I am
sure it is very satisfying to know that you are making a vital
contribution towards eradicating the drug menace.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

11. Forensic chemists who are responsible for analysis and providing a
certificate for prosecution purposes have and will continue to have a very
heavy moral and legal responsibility in that in all cases their analytical
results will be pivotal in determining the charge and penalty for the
accused. This is more so in Malaysia and some other countries where very
stiff penalties have been provided. For example, possession of heroin,
morphine or monoacetyl- morphine in excess of five grams but less than
fifteen grams or possession of 250 grams of raw or prepared opium attracts
the life sentence. In case of possession of more than 200 grams of
cannabis or cannabis resin or 1,000 grams of raw preparedopium or fifteen
grams of heroin, morphine or monoacetyl- morphine - the mandatory death
sentence is imposed. This is to ensure that these scums of society do not
get a chance to ruin countless innocent lives and young minds by their
abhorrent and despicable activities.

12. The responsibility of the forensic chemist is further enhanced and the
task before him magnified by the increasing trend to apply threshold
measurements or values to determine the severity of the penalty. As far as
you as experts are concerned, appropriate and accurate methodology is
therefore of paramount importance and uniformity or harmonisation in this
field will go a long way to alleviate this heavy moral and legal burden of
the forensic chemists.

13. I am also aware that your duty as forensic chemists extends from
beyond the laboratory into the court as analysing a drug exhibit and
issuing a report is only half the story. It is the privilege of the
accused through his counsel to cross-examine you on your evidence. The
ultimate acceptability of your evidence will depend a lot not only on how
accurately the forensic chemist performs the analysis, but also on how he
is able to convince the court on the accuracy and validity of the
scientific evidence in simple terms without invoking too much scientific
jargon. Let me therefore suggest that your recommendations should also be
extended to this very important area.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

14. In the application of the drug laws, unintended legal constraints must
be removed. Outdated laws and definitions must be amended. Drug laws
should be designed to facilitate the effective enforcement of anti drug
policies and should not hinder the work of the enforcement agencies in the
form of loopholes and technicalities. Public policy would demand not only
due regard be given to the formal technicalities required of the case, but
also to take cognizance of other prevailing facts and circumstances
relating to the case in exercising discretionary powers and judicial
notice. There should be no refuge in the laws for these peddlers of death.

15. To this end, I am happy to note that our forensic chemists have
provided the authorities with invaluable feedback and advice on scientific
definitions of drugs. Our definitions for 'cannabis', 'opium poppy' and
'raw opium' are now based on chemical contents rather than botanical
taxonomy. It is the drug present in the plant that matters and not the
botanical identity of the plant. For example, we have outlawed all species
of cannabis capable of producing cannabinoids and all plants that can
produce morphine. We do not restrict it to certain species like Cannabis
Sativa L and Papaver Somniferum L as is still done in most countries
today.

16. It is manifestly unreasonable to outlaw the euphoric effects of one
cannabis species only but not the euphoric effects of other species. Can
you imagine a scenario where a person is convicted for obtaining a 'high'
from, or for the possession of one cannabis sample whereas another person
who obtained exactly the same 'high' from, or possessed of, another
species, is not liable to prosecution? On the same principle, we have
placed monoacetyl-morphine at par with heroin and morphine in terms of
severity of punishment. Monoacetyl-morphine is twice as potent as
morphine, and we had come across cases where large quantities of this
intermediate product was found in the possession of some traffickers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

17. It is my hope that the international community in the near future will
be able to arrive at a scheme of harmonised definitions to cover all drugs
of abuse, including the so-called 'designer drugs' which are posing a very
major threat. Limitations in the definitions have allowed abuse of such
derivative drugs to be outside the ambit of the law.

18. Presently, we in Malaysia face an increasing problem in the use of
cannabis by addicts, and the abuse of amphetamines may pose a future
threat as heroin supplies decrease due to tough enforcement
measures. While the same basic principle may lie under the methodology
used in the analysis of street drug samples and the analysis of drugs in
biological fluids, the latter pose a more challenging and difficult
problem.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

19. At the 9th. ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Drug Matters held in
Kuala Lumpur in September 1985, various experts from the ASEAN member
countries have identified some problems in the detection of drugs,
principally cannabinoids, in biological fluids. Among these problems are
the deterioration of cannabinoids in urine samples with time, during
storage, and the high cost of testing and provision of skilled personnel
to carry out such tests. With the view that mass screening of drug addicts
for cannabisuse may be essential as the problem of drug abuse escalates
and considering financial and manpower constraints that exist, the ASEAN
experts have agreed to the recommendation that the technique of thin-layer
chromatography (TLC) and immunoassays be utilized for small and large
samples respectively and the gas chromatography/massspectrometry technique
be used for confirmation purposes.

20. Alternatives for confirming the presence of cannabinoids in biological
fluids using other chromatographic techniques are currently being
developed. It is hoped that this meeting would also provide the forum for
the useful exchange of experiences and knowledge in this particular field
and thus assist forensic laboratories in member countries in developing
more efficent and cost-effective techniques in the detection of drugs in
biological fluids.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

21. I understand that you had a similar meeting in Wiesbaden, Federal
Republic of Germany, last year where heroin and cocaine were discussed and
that this group had fruitful and useful deliberations resulting in some
very constructive recommendations. Our Government forensic laboratories
which already have sophisticated instruments like Fourier Transform
Infra-Red Spectrometer, Gas Liquid Chromatograph, High Performance Liquid
Chromatograph and Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer are being further
upgraded with the acquisition of various other instrumentations such as
the Scanning Electron Microscope, the Mass Selective Detector and several
of the latest generation of Gas Chromatographs.

22. I am convinced that meetings of this nature are very essential for the
free flow of information and exchange of ideas and for you to come to some
common understanding, especially on harmonisation of analytical
methodologies and definitions. You will also be able to keep abreast with
the latest development to enable you to carry out your function
effectively and to be at least one step ahead of the masterminds and
kingpins of the illicit drug trade, who are also using science and
technology to circumvent the law - as exemplified by the emergence of the
so-called 'designer drugs'.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

23. Besides playing host to this meeting, I would also like to offer to
share the experiences and expertise gained by our forensic chemists with
other member states of the United Nations and neighbouring countries by
holding regional courses or workshops in collaboration with the relevant
United Nations organisation. In this way we can all work together to fight
the drug menace that has affected the young of our society.

24. In any endeavour, one has to be innovative and adopt or adapt new
methodologies to suit one's own environment or needs. In recommending new
or standardised methodologies it would be advisable to capitalise on the
research and findings in other fields too so that valuable time and money
can be saved. This may not be achieved overnight but extrapolation to your
needs as forensic chemists is always possible. I would like to mention two
areas: firstly, advances in electronics leading to miniaturization of
instruments for on site examinations; and secondly, wider use of computers
in analytical operations - leading to improvement in efficiency of
operations and access to a wider database for background information.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

25. All that I have mentioned today will serve to illustrate very vividly
the Malaysian Government's desire and commitment to eradicate the drug
problem in our country. It is an onerous task but I hope that with the
support of the international community our efforts will bear fruit for the
sake of the future generation of our country and of the world.

26. With these words, I wish once again to thank the United Nations
Division on Narcotic Drugs for organising and bestowing on us the honour
to host this meeting in Kuala Lumpur. I now have great pleasure in
declaring this meeting open
 
 



 
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