PUTRAJAYA, July 8 — The word ‘mandatory’ with regard to sentencing in drug trafficking cases will be removed from legislation to allow presiding judges the choice to either impose the death sentence or imprisonment of not less than 10 years, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today. 

Under current laws (Section 39B, Dangerous Drugs Act 1952), he said, an accused found guilty of trafficking a certain amount of drugs will be punished with the mandatory death sentence.

“We are setting aside the judge’s authority to impose the mandatory death sentence (in drug trafficking cases).

“We (the government) want to remove the word mandatory. Judges can choose to either impose the death sentence or opt for imprisonment but for not less than 10 years,” he told reporters after the Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting at the Perdana Leadership Foundation here today.

Dr Mahathir said crime in Malaysia was becoming a worrying problem and this includes the misuse of drugs.

“And due to this, we are taking a firm stand (to impose heavy punishment)...this is despite us being pushed to drop the term ‘mandatory death’,” he said.

In another development, the premier said the government is of the view that the welfare of the police force was not up to acceptable standards.

“As such, the Finance Ministry will ensure there are enough funds to repair houses and barracks occupied by police officers and personnel,” he said. — Bernama