The Health Ministry has no plans to enact an Act to ban people from drinking liquor or alcoholic beverages in public places, said Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.
He said the ministry did not want to interfere with the jurisdiction of other parties such as the Local Authorities (LAs) who now have the power to prohibit the practice of drinking alcohol in public at some places.
According to him, the ministry was only responsible for controlling the type of alcohol and percentage of alcohol content in the liquor as a condition before the product was allowed to be sold in the country.
“It is clearly under the purview of the local authorities. The Health Ministry will not interfere with this authority,” he told a press conference after opening the Asia-Pacific Society for Alcohol and Addiction Research (APSAAR) here today.
Several groups, including the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM), have urged the government to enact a special law or to enforce a ban on drinking alcohol in certain places or publicly to address the increasing social problems caused by alcohol.
Meanwhile, Dr Lee said the ministry had not received any applications from any public officials or statutory bodies to plant ketum following the approval announced by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad at the Dewan Rakyat on Monday.
Dzulkefly reportedly said the planting of ketum was only allowed for research, education and medical purposes by any public or a statutory body officials based on certain terms and conditions as well as a letter of authorisation from the Health Minister.
Meanwhile, Dr Lee in his speech said that since the implementation of Medication Assisted Therapy or drug-assisted therapy in 2005, Malaysia now has more than 500 clinics or centres under the government or private sector to provide such services.
He said the programme was found to be effective in improving quality of life, especially in terms of employment, health status and social function of such cases.
“There are also significant reductions in HIV, Hepatitis B and C as well as reductions in crime, arrests, drug use and HIV risk. Drug addicts are no longer a social burden and can contribute to society through rewarding work,” he added.