KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Putrajaya’s bid to remove the mandatory death penalty for drug convictions does not mean the administration is becoming lenient towards narcotics abuse, said Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.
The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who tabled the amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act today said the move was simply to allow the courts the discretion to decide on the maximum penalty for offences under the law.
She also noted that the proposed minimum sentence was still life imprisonment with no fewer than 15 strokes of the cane.
“All parties should view this amendment as a proactive step by the government to ensure appropriate justice for those who should not receive the mandatory death penalty,” she said in a statement.
Azalina explained that the government must retain the option of the death penalty as it did not want to compromise with major drug dealers who remain a threat to the country and the public.
The amendment seeks to reinstate Section 39B that previously allowed judges to issue prison sentences, whipping, and death as possibly penalties.
It was removed in 1983 so that drug traffickers could only be punished with death.
Padang Serai MP N. Surendran earlier criticised the wording of the amendment, saying it simply shifted the power to decide on the death penalty from the judges to the prosecutors.