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Pupils to be given spot drugs tests

Malaysia

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The education ministry is to supply secondary schools with "quick test" kits to identify drug-users.

The kits will enable schools to carry out on-the-spot urine tests of pupils suspected of using drugs regularly.

If the test registers positive, the school will arrange for the student to take a more comprehensive check through the anti-narcotics agency or in hospitals.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said headteachers can exercise their discretion on which pupils are to be tested but urged them not to be reluctant to use the "quick test".

"The question of the quick test result being disputed or the possibility of legal complications does not arise. This is because only the result of the second test will be taken into account," he said.

The ministry regards the drug problem in Malaysian schools as serious, although the number of habitual users is quite low.Of the country's 250,000 registered addicts, 76 per cent are between 15 and 29 years old. However, it is thought that the real figures may be double the official ones despite tough legislation that includes the death penalty for drug-trafficking.

The tests will screen for "dadah" usage, a term covering heroin, morphine, ganja and other drugs. Users, as opposed to traffickers, can be subjected to mandatory rehabilitation.

Martin Spice

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