Opium was such a big part of Malaya’s history. By 1874 there was a large number of Chinese immigrants in the Federated States working in tin mines and as shopkeepers and many of these had brought with them their opium smoking habit. 
In Penang, the wealthier orders smoke privately in their own houses but the poorer class smoke in miserable shops that are kept open from six in the morning til ten o'clock at night, each being furnished with from four to eight bed-steads, constructed of bamboo-spars and covered with dirty mats and rattans.  The Government also opened smoking saloons where customers could smoke a pipe in clean and peaceful surroundings and have pleasant dreams.
During the early 1930s the Government decided that more should be done to reduce the extent of opium smoking in the Federation. In order to enforce this new policy every opium smoker had to register with the Customs Department and was given a Registration card which enabled him to purchase opium from any Government opium shop on the production of his card. Only registered smokers could buy opium legally and no-one, apart from the Government, was allowed to sell opium.
Many of the applicants were Chinese manual labourers who like a smoke after a strenuous day's work. They said it relaxed them and got rid of their aches and pains. They were earning reasonable wages and could afford to smoke. It was the poor labourer who could not afford both to smoke opium and eat who became emaciated and ill, mainly through under nourishment.
While a lot of these Chinese laborers came to Malaya to save up enough money to go back to China and start a new life, so strong was the pull of opium that many fell into a cycle of addiction and debt.
“Opium-smoking throws whole families into ruin, dissipates every kind of property, and ruins man himself… When the smoker has pawned everything in his possession, he will pawn his wife and sell his daughters.” – a description of an opium smoker, taken from “The Land and People of China“.
Photo Credit: Waghih Nismilan Sources: https://www.britishempire.co.uk/article/opiumdealers.htm  The Chinese Repository