KUALA LUMPUR: For family members of murder victims, there will be no justice should the death penalty be abolished.
That is the sentiment of Erni Dekritawati Yuliana Buhari, Datuk Richard Morais and Wong Hie Huong who went through the anguish of losing their loved ones in a brutal way.
Erni’s mother, businesswoman Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya, was 47 years old when she was murdered in 2010.
Richard’s brother, former deputy public prosecutor Datuk Anthony Kevin Morais, was killed in 2015 while Wong’s brother Jing Kui died in 2012.
All three are calling for the government to keep the death penalty.
Erni, who is better known as Rita Sosilawati, said she was dismayed when she first heard of the news that the government was going to review the death penalty.
Holding back her tears, she said those who advocated for its abolishment should walk in the shoes of family members like her.
“It is unfair to the families of the victims. Yes, we understand that it is about human rights. But when the murderer committed the act, did he think about the rights of the victim?
“My mum was a successful businesswoman with a family who was dependent on her. Suddenly, she was taken away from us.
“It is the punishment (death penalty) that helped us find the strength to go on with our lives.
“It is not easy (to go through a murder in the family). I still need my mum,” she said.
Should the death penalty be abolished to be replaced with life imprisonment, the businesswoman said that families of murder victims would always live in fear.
“What happens when the murderer finishes serving his sentence? What if the murderer holds a grudge against us?
“The families of the victims will always feel unsafe,” she added.
Richard said it was unfair for murderers to escape the gallows when they had killed someone in cold blood.
“Kevin was an innocent prosecutor, doing his work for the government,” he said of his brother who was 55 when he was first reported to be missing in September 2015.
“You have to lose a member of your family to murder to understand how it feels,” he said.
He spoke of seeing his brother’s body.
“The body was like a rock. I couldn’t even touch him; it was covered in cement.”
Wong felt that those who committed murder should not be let free in their lifetime.
“This is wrong. They (the government) should not do this,” said Wong, who is an accountant.
Lawyer Christina Teng, who was representing all three, said the death penalty should be kept as Malaysia needed strict laws as deterrence to heinous crimes.
Teng said that commuting death sentences to life sentences would also place a huge burden on public funds.
“Why do you want to use taxpayers’ money to support the lives of perpetrators of crimes?” she asked.
The families have also started a petition at https://www.change.org/p/prime-minister-tun-dr-mahathir-protect-us-keep-enforce-death-penalty-dp-in-malaysia.