Liew: Process of abolishing death penalty ongoing, more time needed after moratorium

  • Nation
  • Friday, 05 Apr 2019

BANGI: The process to abolish the mandatory death penalty is still ongoing as the government has to deal with various issues following the moratorium on all pending executions, says Datuk Liew Vui Keong.

The Minister in the Prime Ministers Department expects the studies on this to be completed within two months, and for amendments to the law to be considered in the July sitting of Parliament.

"We need a bit of time, we will get all the feedback from the relevant stakeholders to look into those issues," he told reporters after giving a talk on the mandatory death penalty at the Judicial and Legal Training Institute (Ilkap) on Friday (April 5).

Amendments to the laws will allow judges to use their discretion in sentencing those convicted.

As of October last year, there were 1,281 people on death row, although a moratorium on executions since October last year is still in place.

There are currently 11 offences punishable under the mandatory death sentence.

The Minister in the Prime Ministers Department said that there were still issues with Sec 39b of the Dangerous Drugs Act, where judges have discretion in sentencing provided those convicted satisfy four conditions.

Liew said one of those conditions was assisting police to deter drug activity, a condition that was very hard to satisfy.

He said this was the case of "Dr Ganja", a former armed forces captain who was sentenced to death for possessing, processing and distributing medical marijuana (cannabis oil).

When asked if there would still be the total abolishment of the death penalty, Liew said he would urge the Cabinet to look into it.

When asked why they were not abolishing capital punishment in total, Liew said they listened to the voices of the people.

In October last year, Liew said that the Cabinet had decided to abolish the death penalty with a moratorium for those on death row.

In March, however, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (in charge of law) Mohamed Hanipa Maidin announced in Parliament that the government is proposing to introduce sentencing discretion for 11 offences under the Penal Code and Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act, 1971, which currently carry the mandatory death penalty.

In a survey of 3,600 respondents conducted by The Star Online last year, almost half of those surveyed were against the Cabinet's plan to abolish the death penalty.

About 45% felt the death penalty was needed to keep hardcore criminals at bay while 32% said it was still needed for violent crimes, especially crimes against children.

Only 23% fully supported the total removal of the death penalty, saying it has no place in modern society.

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