KANGAR, May 29 — The government should involve the participation of former soldiers and policemen who can act as part of the enforcement to control the abuse of ketum leaves among the people in the country if the planting of ketum for medicinal purposes is permitted.

The patron of the Royal Malaysian Air Force Veterans Association (PVTUDM) of Perlis, Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin said the task of ketum control and enforcement could be assisted by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) comprising former soldiers and policemen.

“I am currently discussing with the Minister of Health (Khairy Jamaluddin) and we have appointed a former senior police officer from the narcotics division to head a committee comprising former soldiers and policemen,” he said.

Zahidi, who is also the Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia, said this to reporters at the Perlis PVTUDM Aidilfitri celebration at the Timah Tasoh Freshwater Fish Sanctuary, near here, today. 

In April, Zahidi was reported to have said that the discussion to seek consent to plant ketum for medicinal purposes had received the green light from the government.

He said the Cabinet had also given its consent for a discussion to be carried out by him, representing the Padang Besar parliamentary seat, with the Minister of Health over the issue.

Elaborating, Zahidi said the government would also be helping retired soldiers and policemen to generate income if it approved the planting of ketum, rather than just depending on their pension.

“The global demand for ketum for medicinal purposes is very big. Our neighbouring country receives a large income from ketum. So, if the government allows the planting of the ketum tree, it will benefit the rubber smallholders, for example, as it will help them generate income if the price of rubber falls,” he said.

Meanwhile, in conjunction with the National Journalists Day celebration today, he expressed his highest appreciation for the deeds and sacrifices of journalists in delivering accurate information to society.

“…and they (journalists) make sacrifices to deliver information to the public, including venturing to cover wars and there are those who were killed… so great is the sacrifice of journalists to society.

“The Ministry (of Communications and Multimedia) appreciates the deeds of journalists and is considering how to repay their deeds and look after their welfare… we will always strive to repay their good deeds,” he added.


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