JOHOR BARU: The state Pardons Board has decided to release or commute the sentences of at least a dozen people convicted of various crimes in the state.
The board, convening for the first time in 15 years, decided for the first time to release eight men on the first day of the fasting month Saturday and also reduce the death penalty for four men to life imprisonment.
State Secretary Datuk Obet Tawil added that the board, headed by the Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, also granted a full pardon to Yong Huie Perng, who was involved in the stealing of a mini compo in Kluang when he was a teenager in 1985.
"He wanted his records wiped clean under Article 42 of the Federal Constitution as he was a juvenile when the crime was committed. He wanted to keep a clean record to help him get job opportunities in future," Obet said during a press conference here Wednesday.
Yong was in Form six when he was convicted of the crime and sentenced to one day in prison and fined RM1,000 for the offence.
In detailing the process, Obet said that the board, comprising the Sultan, Johor Mentri Besar, Attorney-General, state secretary and three members of the board, made these decision on Jan 19 this year.
"The board makes its decision based on various aspects, including the type of offence, the duration of the sentence served, the level of rehabilitation undergone by the convict.
"There was a total of 25 cases brought up for review under Regulation 54 of the Prison's Regulation 2000, which allows for sentences to be reviewed every four years.
"We also had five cases for leniency for the death penalty, under Regulation 114 of the Prison' Regulation 2000 and two pleas for clemency under Article 42 of the Federal Constitution," he said, adding that the board only had jurisdiction over crimes committed in Johor.
Obet added that the board rejected the appeal for others as they were mainly those convicted for rape and incest.
"Sultan Ibrahim wants all the prisoners who are being set free to use the second chance to better themselves not just for their sake but also their families, society and the country," he said, adding that they should also repent for all their past mistakes.
Asked why the board had not convened for a long time, Obet said they needed time to find suitable people to be taken in as board members as one had passed away.
"From now onwards, we hope that the Prisons Department will send us a report of all convicts eligible for a review to be submitted to the board," he added.
He added that people could also write directly to the state secretary about matters pertaining to the board.
Separately, Obet added that Sultan Ibrahim also used his discretion to release 10 inmates detained at the Tampoi Mental Hospital in September last year.
"All these inmates have been found to be rehabilitated and based on reports from the doctor and the hospital's visitor's board, these people have been released into the custody of their families," he added.
He said these men did not come under the purview of the board as they were being detained at the hospital at the pleasure of the state ruler.
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