Hon. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed,
I am compelled to write to you this open letter of appeal with high hopes that you would cancel all charges against Mohd Zaireen Zainal of the Malaysian Marijuana Education Movement. Zaireen has been disproportionately sentenced in response for the kindness and bravery he has shown in a sincere effort to lessen the pain of fellow citizens – many like myself who had survived AIDS for over 20+ years now. Since I also got relieved of physical and mental pain with the help of medicinal Cannabis I cannot remain silent specially because I know you from the past and have grown huge respect and trust towards your unwavering leadership in the area of evidence based policy development in the whole region during times of crisis.
PM Mahathir I specially remember the compassion that you had shown towards me and extended your full support to people living with HIV 20 years ago as you presided over the closing ceremony of the KL AIDS Conference in 1999. I had no idea that I would survive this long to tell you what impression I had of Malaysian people by your show of support towards then highly stigmatized people like us with HIV who had very little hopes to live for.
Twenty years later, I was in KL just only last week speaking in front of policy makers, law enforcement officials and clinicians who were all desperately seeking for a solution to an entirely different challenge that Malaysia and the entire region has been facing at present. It is the rapidly shifting drug use trend towards Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) among young population that needs your attention and certainly not Cannabis. In fact, my experiences have given me promising results (expected) or enough reasons to believe that cannabis may help (assuming) moderately or severely dependent ATS users, in a longer term, for assisting them to achieve their personal goals. This was precisely my recommendation to that important group of experts who were in pursuit of finding an actionable response.
However, I was shocked to soon learn that a doctor could be fined upto 2000 MYR if they don’t report to the anti-drug Police, about their encounter with every new person who show up at their doorstep inquiring about and seeking for any health service that could assist them or provide better alternatives .
Current approaches under criminal or punitive drug law that undermines the being of a human and their rights are certainly not what your people deserve in 2019, after almost 2 decades of progress, harm reduction, pioneering good practices for health and investment for better quality of life of vulnerable communities in Malaysia.
I am certainly clear that you’re back to lead this country and the region once again in a very difficult situation which needs yet another exceptional show of kindness and visionary leadership so that future generations are safe and happy.
I am always willing to extend my support in future if needed because I wasn’t treated unfairly when I shared my experience of using ATS and strategies to overcome once you have been severely dependent on it. It would be heart-breaking for many Malaysian people to learn that they are being deprived of the same immunity that I as a foreigner had been granted.
Mr. PM, Sir that’s altogether unfair and needs to change. You are the only hope Zaireen and I have left. Thus, I dared to write this letter today as soon as I came across the news about this price Zaireen has been compelled to pay with apparently his life for being brave and for showing kindness to another human being like every Malaysian I know including yourself would not hesitate to show, His Excellency.
Hope to hear back on a positive note.
Asian Network of People who Use Drugs