Historic day as government tables amendments to abolish mandatory death penalty: MP Kasthuri

Media statement by DAP Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan, DAP Deputy Secretary of International Affairs and President for Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) on Thursday 6th October 2022 in the Malaysian Parliament:

October 6 2022 – A historic day in Malaysian history as the Government takes a valiant step in tabling amendments to abolish the mandatory death penalty.

October 6th, 4 days before the World Day Against the Death Penalty, Malaysia holds her head high as a member of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in the historic tabling of first reading of the abolition of the mandatory death penalty which carries 11 offences in the Malaysian criminal justice system. Malaysia has 33 offences that carry the death penalty of which, 11 are mandatory and 22 are discretionary. The tabling of the first reading means that we have one foot in the door in working to abolish the mandatory death penalty and hopefully, one day, of total abolition.

Minister in the Prime Ministers Department Dato Sri Wan Junaidi and his Deputy Datuk Wira Mas Ermieyati and the entire legal team must be given the utmost credit, merit and commendation and the late Datuk VK Liew who started the ball rolling on setting up a special committee headed by former Chief Justice Tun Richard Malanjum on alternatives to the death penalty, the courage and the political will to bring an idea to paper and for that paper to be tabled in Parliament today.

The amendments will see discretion given to judges if they wish to use the death penalty or not on convicted persons, including whipping. However, the application of the amendment will be prospective and not retrospective which leaves room for discussion and debate on death row inmates who have served over 35 years on death row.

My wish list upon the tabling of the amendment to abolish the mandatory death penalty is to review the punishment using the words “imprisonment for natural life” to a maximum of 30 years imprisonment and lower according to the discretion of judges and to abolish whipping as a form of corporal punishment. I also wish to see that the moratorium is still applied in spite of the abolition of the mandatory death penalty.

Let us not forget that both the death penalty and corporal punishment were both used and left behind by our colonial masters that they have gotten rid of but what we hold dearly on to. This must change and change fast.

This amendment to abolish the mandatory death penalty does, in no way means that Malaysia is soft on crime – rather it is moving in the direction to uphold the rule of law, to defend the criminal justice system and to prevent, the best to our ability, a miscarriage of justice. The subject of the death penalty must be viewed with social reform as well.

Today we have over 1300 men and women, Malaysian and foreigners who are on death row for various offences committed. With this progressive move, what will happen to them, and their fate?

What is crucial here is that Malaysia has broken ranks amongst ASEAN countries that still have the death penalty to now be amongst many countries that have abolished the death penalty. Malaysia must now also fulfil its obligation to vote in support of a moratorium against the death penalty at United Nations, as it had done before.

Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) has always been a strong advocate and partner towards the abolition of the death penalty, beginning with the first step, to abolish the mandatory death penalty, and as President I applaud this herculean task to bring this to the August House.

This photo was taken this morning with Dato Sri Wan Junaidi, Minister of Law before the tabling of the amendment with families of death row prisoners in Malaysia and in Singapore, lawyers Khaizan@Sherrie and Ngeow Chow Ying, members of ADPAN an NGO against the death penalty and officers with the Ministers office and the legal department and I.

Kasthuri Patto
DAP Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan
Deputy Secretary for International Affairs
President, Parliamentarians for Global Action

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