Malaysia’s Drug Laws: More than just Death Penalty

Malaysia’s Drug Laws: More than just Death Penalty

1024 536 Chan Zi Xin

Possession of drugs in Malaysia is no joking matter. Drug regulation is governed by the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) 1952, ANYONE regardless of his/her nationality can be arrested and punished under this Act if convicted.

3 most common drug offences

Self-administration:

This offence is often proven by chemical tests conducted on the urine or blood sample of the accused. It carries a fine not exceeding RM 5,000.00 or an imprisonment term not exceeding 2 years.

 

Possession:

To prove “possession”, there must be three ingredients – custody, control, and knowledge. The penalty varies from fine to life imprisonment and whipping, depending on the  weight of the drugs possessed in question.

For example, possessing between 2-5 grams of Heroin carries a penalty of 2-5 years imprisonment and 3-9 strokes of the cane. Possessing more than 5 grams of Heroin carries an imprisonment from 5 years to life imprisonment and a minimum of 10 strokes of the cane.

 

Trafficking:

To prove drug trafficking, the prosecution must prove that the person is in possession of dangerous drugs, and such possession is for the purpose of trafficking the said drugs. Drug trafficking is the most serious offence under DDA, which potentially carries a death penalty. If you’re charged with drug trafficking, NO BAIL is allowed if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for more than five years or death penalty. The types of punishments are rather extensive depending on the type and amount of drugs in question, so it is advisable that you take a look at it yourself here.

 

While many people might think “drug trafficking” refers to only sneaking drugs past the Customs, the legal definition of “trafficking” is actually much wider than that. Section 2 DDA defines “trafficking” as the doing of any of the following acts, including manufacturing, importing, exporting, keeping, concealing, buying, selling, giving, receiving, storing, administering, transporting, carrying, sending, delivering, procuring, supplying or distributing any dangerous drugs…”

 

Presumption of possession/knowledge

Imagine if you were stopped and checked while carrying a bag for a friend/stranger. Unfortunately, there were drugs hidden in the bag and you’re charged for drug possession/drug trafficking. Can you claim that “you didn’t know the drugs were there”?

 

Prima facie, the answer is no because of the presumption of possession/knowledge. If the prosecutor can prove that you were in physical custody and control of the bag, then it will be presumed that you have knowledge of the drugs in the bag, hence you are in possession of those drugs. The presumption of trafficking depends on the weight of the drugs in question. If the weight of the drugs found on you exceed the threshold weight prescribed in section 37 of DDA, then it can be presumed that you are trafficking in the said drugs.

These presumptions can be rebutted (albeit hard):

  • Identity and contact of the person who handed you the package containing the drugs.
  • Refer to the CCTV footage.
  • Look for the person/witness who can support your version of events.
  • Inform the offices about all the communications between you and such person who handed you the drug.
  • Inform the officer of any other person who may have access to the drugs.

These particulars will help the authorities with their investigation and could support your defence in court if you get charged.

 

Safety tips for you!

1) Be extra careful when a stranger or a friend asks you to safeguard or carry their belongings.

2) Never leave your belongings unattended in public areas.

3) It is advisable to inform the police of all the material facts relevant to your defence, if not your silence during police investigation might be used against you in the court later.

4) Immediately inform your family and seek legal advice if you are arrested or investigated for drug-related offences.

Chan Zi Xin

Chan Zi Xin is currently pursuing a Master in Medical Law (LLM) in the University of Liverpool as a Hodgson scholar. Having had her own articles published in Brickfields Law Review and Liverpool’s Law Bulletin, Zi Xin also led the operation of the University of Liverpool’s Law Review as the Deputy Editor In Chief (2016-17). Besides, Zi Xin currently volunteers with Healthwatch Liverpool as a social worker, where she acts as an advocate to help monitor and influence the provision of health and social care services in Liverpool. Zi Xin is also an avid squash player where she played for the university team and coached junior players.

All stories by:Chan Zi Xin