“Warning: Death to All Drug Traffickers!”

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary This startling and threatening label is at the bottom of every single immigration form a person fills out when going to countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Long ago, these three countries established the most draconian sets of law aimed at curbing drug trafficking. In the legal code of all three countries, the death penalty is mandatory for anyone carrying in more than 60 grams of any illegal narcotic. I mention this particular subject because recently five Mexican nationals have been charged and sentenced to death for having been “discovered” with 32 kilograms of methamphetamine. They are obviously appealing this ruling, but alas the chances are very high they will be hanged. In fact, Malaysia boasts that since 1960, it has hanged 440 people for drug trafficking. And the Malaysian government makes no distinction of who a drug trafficker is.

According to the law in all three countries, a drug trafficker is someone in possession of an illegal substance. The law makes no distinction between a drug user and a drug pusher. They are all put into the same category. And what about the five Mexican men, who claimed that the illegal drugs they were found near was in fact made by someone else and not them? All five men claim that the illicit drugs were there, and that they were cleaners and certainly not the ones who made them or sold them. That is all nice and good, but chances are the Malaysian court system will not examine the evidence, will not try and cross-examine witnesses, and will not cross-examine government officials. This is something that does not happen in Malaysia, and once a verdict has been handed down it is highly unlikely that it can be reversed. I hope for the sake of these men their convictions will be overturned and that the court will look at the evidence and make sure they are not sentencing innocent men to be hanged.

I of course do not know what will happen, but I should give my readers some important tips of what not to do while in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. First, stay clear of anyone you do not know and may seem “too friendly.” Such people may be setting you up. Trust no one who wants to hand you a box, a package and a parcel and ask you to “give it to someone or have it mailed.” Second, make sure that all your luggage is securely locked and that no one can slip anything suspicious into your luggage. Finally, if you stay somewhere always make sure it is secure and has funny or unknown contents laying around. There are no hard and fast rules for protecting yourself if you go to Malaysia, Singapore or Brunei, but remember that there is no future for anyone who purposefully or even accidentally tries to smuggle drugs through these countries. And do not get any ideas that a person’s nationality will save them from the gallows—it will not. Americans have also been hanged. I personally do not believe in the death penalty for someone busted for drugs. They should maybe do some jail time and then be rehabilitated. But this is how we do things in the United States. The three countries of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei have different laws and very deadly penalties. Do not say I did not warn you!

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