PUTRAJAYA, Feb 18 — The government is reviewing the country’s drug laws to determine if substitutes to capital punishment were viable, the prime minister said today.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said there were views that the death penalty was not an effective deterrent to drug trafficking, but these must be corroborated.
“We will see if this is true or not, and if we should fine other legislative ways to prevent drug abuse or trafficking, then we amend the relevant laws accordingly,” Dr Mahathir said following the launch of the National Anti-Drug Month 2020 at Dewan De’Seri Endon in Putrajaya.
The government has proposed empowering judges to hand out alternate sentences to convicted drug traffickers to life imprisonment in lieu of the death penalty that is still mandatory under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Today, Dr Mahathir said some sections of the country now considered the death penalty to be “too harsh”.
“So there may be a need to amend the laws, perhaps making it life imprisonment instead,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir said authorities recorded 130,788 cases of narcotics abuse in 2018, which he said was the equivalent of 404 drug users per 100,000 Malaysians.
The PM also said 105,375 drug users were recorded in the first half of 2019, representing a 23.2 per cent increase over the corresponding period in the previous year.
Dr Mahathir said this was alarming given the prevalence of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and the emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in Asia and the world.
“In 2009, only 130 NPSs were reported. But from 2009 to 2019, 892 NPSs were reported in 119 countries.
“Some RM3.53 billion in drugs were confiscated in 2019, compared to RM0.58 billion in 2018. This indicates that traffickers will do anything to reap profit from the suffering of others,” he said.