Suicide attempts to be decriminalised with proposed revision to Section 309, says Azalina
KUALA LUMPUR - The government intends to revise the Section 309 of the Penal Code to punish individuals attempting suicide so it will be more relevant and in line with current developments.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Legislation and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said stated attempted suicide was a criminal offense imported from Indian Penal Code by the British colonialists.
She claimed that despite the United Kingdom abolishing the crime on 1961, Section 309 of Penal Code still remains in Malaysian law.
"Malaysia inherited numerous laws from British colonial era, including the Penal Code, the Evidence Act 1950, the Civil Law Act 1956, and the Defamation Act 1957.
"The laws needs to be revised every so often to ensure it's relevant with the current needs and with the development in science and technology.
"Criminal punishment may not be the answer to mental health problems. Therefore, I am committed to revise Section 309 of the Penal Code," she said in a press conference after officiating the Minister's Institutional Reform Workshop in the Prime Minister's Department (Legal and Institutional Reform) with Ministries/Departments and CSOs/NGOs Year 2023 held at Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) here today.
Azalina added legal terminology can shape public perception and influence community behavior regarding an issue.
If a legal terminology holds a negative connotation, then it may cause stigma and discrimination against certain communities, she said.
"For example, the words 'dumb witness' and 'idiot' are still being used in the Evidence Act and the Penal Code.
"The boneless tongue is sharper than a sword so the way I see it, the legal terminology usage is not a small affair but should be given consideration in the law review process," she explained.