Liew: No referendum on abolishing death penalty

KOTA KINABALU: There is no need for a referendum on the proposal to abolish the death penalty in Malaysia, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk V.K. Liew said. A referendum, he added, was not constitutionally required.

“We are not going to have a referendum, that is for sure,” he said when responding to a question about a survey done by a Malay daily that many wanted the death penalty to remain.

Liew, who was speaking to reporters after attending the opening of Sabah and Sarawak Legal Year 2019 at the High Court here, said the media survey was not officially done.

However, he said the proposal to abolish the death penalty was still being looked at.

“We are getting all relevant agencies and ministries to provide their feedback on the issue,” he added.

On a proposal by the Sabah Law Society to increase the current retirement age of judges from 66 to 70, Liew said it was a good suggestion as the country needed experienced judges.

Earlier, society president Brandon Soh said there had been calls by academics and civil society for the mandatory age of retirement for judges to be upped from the current age of 66.

“There is a valid and compelling reason to do so.

“Other jurisdictions, such as Britain and Australia, have retirement ages of 70 with nations closer to home such as the Philippines and Indonesia following suit,” he said, adding that in Canada, it is 75.

“In order to preserve judicial wisdom and vision on the bench, an increase in the mandatory retirement age is a timely and suitable initiative,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Coalition against the Death Penalty said in a statement that the government must be lauded for showing leadership in deciding to abolish the death penalty.

“The right to life of all Malaysians is protected by Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution.

“The decision to abolish the death penalty is a formal recognition of the sanctity of life of all individuals in Malaysia and that each life will be protected,” it said.


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