Cabinet to abolish death sentence for 32 offences

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR  / Pic BERNAMA

The government has decided to abolish capital punishment for 32 offences under eight acts of law, including Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong (picture) said the Cabinet has reached a consensus and the proposed bill on abolishing capital punishment will be tabled soon.

“Following the Cabinet decision, a memorandum has been circulated to the relevant ministries for their comments and to get public feedback,” he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The law minister was responding to a question from MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (Pakatan Harapan-Bandar Kuching) who wanted to know the government’s position on abolishing the death penalty and whether there will be exceptions for extremely cruel crimes.

Liew reiterated the government’s commitment to abolishing the death penalty, which is in line with point 27 of Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto to do away with cruel and oppressive laws.

The decision also encompasses the Firearms (Heavier Penalties) Act 1971, Firearms Act 1960, Kidnapping Act 1961, Armed Forces Act 1972, Water Services Industry Act 2006, Strategic Trade Act 2010 and Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, he said.

Speaking to reporters after the session, Liew said there are 32 laws that carry the death penalty, of which 12 are mandatory sentences.

He said there are 1,267 prisoners on death row for crimes ranging from murder to drug trafficking.

The minister also said a government study noted there is no proof to show that the death penalty serves as an “effective deterrent”.

In October, Liew ordered a halt on all executions until the legislation is gazetted and comes into effect.

He also informed the Pardons Board to look into various applications for convicts on the waiting list to either be commuted or released.

Prisoners on death row would have to serve time for at least 30 years once the death penalty is abolished, Liew said.

A check on the death penalty showed that Malaysia would emerge as the 107th country to do away with capital punishment.

Many Asian countries — such as China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam — still impose the death penalty, while 142 countries have rejected it.

Besides the proposed bill on abolishing capital punishment, Liew informed that the bill on the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is expected to be tabled at the next Parliament sitting.

“We expect the bill on IPCMC to be tabled at the next sitting after all issues and policies have been finalised.

“Based on the follow-up meetings on the setting up of the IPCMC, it has been agreed that it should be truly independent, effective and have the powers to tackle problems involving the police force.

“Police’s rights would also be assured as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution,” he said.

In September, the government had announced the setting up of the IPCMC to replace the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission.