Death penalty remains but judges now given discretion in sentencing - PM

10 Jun 2022 08:58pm
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob giving a speech at the Peninsular Malaysia Orang Asli Association’s annual general meeting in Bera, today. - BERNAMA
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob giving a speech at the Peninsular Malaysia Orang Asli Association’s annual general meeting in Bera, today. - BERNAMA
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BERA - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today explained that the death penalty will remain and not be abolished, and the change is only on the fact that judges are now given discretion in sentencing.

He said this in response to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar’s statement earlier that the government had agreed to abolish the mandatory death penalty and to substitute it with other sentences which are subject to the discretion of the court.

Ismail Sabri said with the decision, the "mandatory” part will be removed and judges will no longer be bound by the word (mandatory) which had left them with no choice but to impose the death penalty on criminal offenders as provided by law, such as in drug trafficking cases.

"We are of the view that everyone deserves a second chance. If there are two options (of sentences), and if the offender is found to be a hardcore drug trafficker to the extent of causing hundreds of thousands of people to die (due to drugs), he can be sentenced to death and allowed to be sent to the gallows.

"However, if the judge, in his discretion, felt that the offender should be given a second chance and decided to sentence him to life imprisonment with whipping, he can substitute the mandatory death penalty with that life sentence,” he said.

Ismail Sabri was met after officiating the Peninsular Malaysia Orang Asli Association’s annual general meeting here today.

Ismail Sabri said Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, for example, provides for a mandatory death penalty upon conviction, which left the judge with no choice but to impose the death penalty even though there may be several factors that can be taken into consideration.

"Sometimes, the case involved an 18-year-old. The judge may find him ‘trapped’ as drugs were found in his bag but he could not prove that they belonged to somebody else, and the court had to send him to the gallows even though the judge felt that the accused was just a young man who should be given a second chance to change.

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"We have to understand that the death penalty is not abolished and will remain, it’s just that it will no longer be mandatory,” he said.

Ismail Sabri added that although the government agreed in principle to abolish the implementation of the mandatory death penalty, the matter still needed to be scrutinised. - BERNAMA