‘Death penalty should be an option for deserving crimes’

ON the other side of the coin, some believe the death sentence is still needed to deter crimes.

Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong says the penalty should remain, but only as an option for crimes that warrant a heavier sentence.

“It is imposed as a deterrent punishment while justice calls for punishment that befits the crime.

I maintain that engagement with relevant groups must be carried out to collect views on capital punishment,” says the Ayer Hitam MP.

Elaborating, Dr Wee points out that the mandatory death penalty for drug offences was removed following an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act last year.

Instead, it was replaced with options: the death penalty or imprisonment for life and whipping of not less than 15 strokes.

“This has given wider room for judges to decide the sentences of drug offenders, based on the facts of each case, whilst maintaining the deterrent death penalty,” he says.

Dr Wee urges Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Liew Vui Keong to discuss with judges on more changes to the law, if he claims judges are bound by conditions.

“If so, please discuss further amendments instead of removing death penalty from the options without consulting stakeholders,” he adds.

Dr Wee reiterates that a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) be set up to listen to different views to weigh the issue carefully.

“To address the murder rate, a combination of efforts like effective policing, accessible public health system and unemployment solutions should be looked into,” he says.

Former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan says the death sentence should remain as the answer to serious crimes that can damage the country and society.

“In cases like murder, waging war and terrorism, the death sentence is needed to deter others from being involved,” he says.

He points out that we cannot ignore crimes that can harm society and cause significant social problems.

“Capital punishment will be a deterrent. But at the same time, we must ensure the rule of law is observed because we don’t want innocent people to be prosecuted and executed.

“The more serious the punishment, the more the rule of law must apply,” Musa stresses.

But prevention is always better than cure, and he believes more efforts to educate the public and inculcate a respect for the law must also be done.

“If we don’t educate our people well, they will spiral down and get themselves involved in wrongful activities,” he says.

Neither for nor against the death penalty, Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye suggests that a national referendum be held to gauge what Malaysians think.

“It is important to get the feedback from the public. This is an issue of great importance which involves human lives.

“If the government feels a national referendum isn’t necessary, the least they can do is to form a PSC made up of MPs from both sides,” he proposes.

Because the death penalty can be contentious, Lee urges the government to be cautious and consider all sides of the argument.

“For now, I am neither supporting nor opposing the death penalty.

“But we must provide an opportunity for the people to have their say and be prepared for their answer,” he says.

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