KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 ― The Mahathir administration’s failure to see through “ambitious” efforts to curb drug addiction in the 1980s allowed a heroin menace to wreak havoc among the Malay community, according to a declassified United States intelligence report.

The report prepared by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) then asserted that almost two in three urban Malay youths used banned narcotics during the era, despite efforts under then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The agency said that while Dr Mahathir's efforts, such as passing new drug laws, forming an anti-narcotics team within the police and strengthening borders to avoid transaction of the illegal substance, were insufficient compared to measures adopted by other third world countries.

“Unless he appoints a narcotics czar to oversee both policymaking and implementation of the programme, we judge that some of the anti-narcotics effort's initial gains could be reversed,” it said in the 20-page report titled Malaysia's War on Drugs, referring to Dr Mahathir.


“Drug abuse prevention programmes are [also] targeted at parents and young adults, not at the adolescents and preadolescents who are most likely to try drugs,” the report said.

The CIA report said law enforcement, which was earlier viewed as performing well, also slid into complacency during Dr Mahathir’s administration.

This, it said, resulted in the increase of narcotics smuggling from southern Thailand.


The report also claimed that there had been two major drug production facilities located in Penang and Johor during that time.

The report was part of a trove of 13 million pages from 800,000 of the agency’s files that were declassified and posted online last week.

Malaysia takes a strong stance against drug trafficking and smuggling, but continues to grapple with the menace.

Under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, a person found guilty of possessing 15 grammes or more heroin and morphine; 1,000 grams of more opium; 200 grammes or more cannabis; and 40 grammes or more cocaine will receive the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.