5 Strokes of Cane, 5 Years in Jail for Student Caught Selling Less Than 5 Grams of Weed in Singapore

This is the mandatory minimum punishment for drug trafficking in Singapore.
Frankie Lantican
September 30, 2020, 8:54am
For illustrative purposes only. Photo: Gio BartlettUnsplash

A university student in Singapore has been sentenced to five years in jail and five strokes of the cane after selling less than 5 grams of weed.

Donovan Liew Wee Kiat, 24, was arrested in October 2019 for trafficking in a controlled drug, consumption of a controlled drug, and possession of drug utensils, Channel News Asia reported. This, after a man named Muhammad Yusoff Sallim, 36, was arrested in July of the same year for possessing 4.93 grams of weed in the form of a block and a packet, which he said he bought from Liew.

Liew reportedly admitted to selling Yusoff the drugs for SG$380 ($276) at a car park in July 2019, as well as other times prior to this incident. He pleaded guilty to one charge of trafficking in a Class A Controlled Drug. He was previously out on bail and began serving his sentence on Tuesday.

His sentence was the mandatory minimum punishment for the offense and he could have received up to 20 years of jail time and up to 15 strokes of the cane.

Singapore has very strict laws against drugs. It is one of only four countries that still execute people for drug-related offenses, according to research conducted by Amnesty International.

In September, rights groups criticized the planned execution by hanging of a convicted drug trafficker, which Amnesty International called “callous.” The drug trafficker narrowly escaped the execution after a last-minute judicial intervention.

The country’s Central Narcotics Bureau lists all drugs and inhalants prohibited by the Misuse of Drugs Act, which includes cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin. Cannabis is held in the same regard as other drugs, with offenders receiving heavy punishments.

Possession or consumption of cannabis can land people up to 10 years in jail, a SG$20,000 ($14,608) fine, or both. Meanwhile, those caught illegally trafficking, importing, or exporting cannabis could face the death penalty, depending on the amount.

Introduced during the British colonial rule, caning is a form of punishment used in Singapore on offenders of various crimes, from attempted murder to drug trafficking and vandalism. Men over the age of 50 and women are exempt from caning. The limit of the number of strokes is set at 24 in the case of an adult and 10 in the case of a juvenile.