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Friday, August 30, 2013

MPs: Nab 'magic pills' distributor in schools

DAP parliamentarians are calling for a crackdown on all those involved in promoting pills purported to boost student’s performance in schools.

NONEPetaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua (right) said it is a breach of the Education Ministry’s regulations for teachers to promote any product in schools, especially health products such as the “Dimensi 108” chewing tablets.

“It involves multiple ministries, so we call on all these ministries to take stern action against all parties. Don’t find a scapegoat,” he said during a press conference today, referring to the Health and Education Ministries.

The pills are being sold by 3G Dimensi 108 Sdn Bhd in leaflets as supposedly having “power to change behaviour” and improve the UPSR results of students within 20 days.

The company’s website further claims that parents can expect changes in their children’s behaviour, including showing respect to parents and teachers, being able to tell right from wrong, becoming sharp-minded and independent.

The website carried, among others, purported letters from Mersing and Kota Tinggi Council of Headmasters endorsing the product and claiming it to be highly effective.

English language daily The Star had frontpaged the issue yesterday, quoting parents saying that schools were persuading - or in some cases, forcing - their children to purchase the pills for RM5 per pack.

It also quoted 3G Dimensi Satu Kosong Lapan Sdn Bhd managing director Omar Mohd Yusos who maintained the pills were safe, and distributed to schools since 2010.

In light of Tharmaseelan’s statement, Pua said, “this (company) is selling fake products; making fake claims.

“Police must break up these companies, investigate the relevant principal and schools, and arrest those who are responsible for the widespread distribution of these ‘magic pills’.”

He added that only controlled medicines intended for those suffering from mental illnesses have the ability to change behaviour.

Parents scared to name schools

NONEMeanwhile, Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming (left) pointed out at the same conference that Dimensi 108’s website carried an email from the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau informing that its pills are not classified as drugs and therefore not subject to the Drug Control Authority’s regulation.

However, he stressed that the same email advised that it is not permitted to “make formulations in pharmaceutical doses or make any health claims” in like with the Food Act 1985.

The two MPs urged parents from schools where the pills are being marketed to inform them and lodge complaints to the relevant authorities, including the police, the Education and Health Ministries.

However, the duo claimed that some parents were reluctant to name the schools.

“Why? Because they were scared there is going to be another case of Seri Pristana. Because (they fear) that the principle would start targeting the students and the parents who complained about the school.

“This is what is happening to our parents today. Even when wrongs are being committed, they were very fearful for the interest of their children and that reflects badly on the education system that we have today,” Ong said.

He was referring to the case involving SK Seri Pristana where students of parents who complaint of pupils were being made to eat in the school’s shower room were allegedly harassed and had their photograph taken.

To a question, Pua said the provisions under the Food Act are sufficient to deal with bogus supplement pills, but enforcement needs to be strengthened.

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