Dewan Rakyat passes bill to abolish mandatory death penalty

03 Apr 2023 04:58pm
Dewan Rakyat
Dewan Rakyat

KUALA LUMPUR - The Mandatory Death Penalty Abolition Bill 2023 has been passed unanimously in the Dewan Rakyat via voice vote today.

The bill presented for the second and third readings was read by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Ramkarpal Singh who suggested the judges be given discretionary powers in imposing sentences.

The bill also proposed allowing the judges' discretion to impose prison terms of up to 40 years instead of the mandatory death sentence.

Ramkarpal said the Mandatory Death Penalty Abolition Bill 2023 is an 'omnibus' act because it includes amendments to the Penal Code, the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, the Arms Act 1960, the Kidnapping Act 1961, the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, the Strategic Trade Act 2010 and the Criminal Procedure Code.

It is to abolish the mandatory death penalty, change the sentence to life imprisonment and whipping, and to provide provisions for the matter related to it.

"Mandatory death sentences are one of the punishments considered as a method where justice is served, especially when they involve brutal crimes.

"However, there are no further studies that can prove the death penalty is the best or most effective crime prevention measure.

"The effectiveness of the death penalty as a form of deterrence can not be confirmed given how there are many factors that affect the number of prosecutions or crime rate," he said when presenting the bill.

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He also said the abolishment of the mandatory death sentence is a form of rehabilitation where the prisoners can return to society to become individuals who can serve their family and country after completing their sentence.

Thus, the government's decision to abolish the sentence can be seen as an effort to create a legal system that is dynamic, progressive, and relevant to current needs.

"However, the alternative punishment for the mandatory death sentence must be commensurate with the seriousness of the crime committed by the offender and not result in incompatibility with other less serious punishments.

"Therefore, a long period of imprisonment with whipping is the most appropriate alternative for the 11 offences that result in a mandatory death sentence.

"Combining imprisonment and whipping is suitable as it seems to be a heavier sentence compared to punishment for other crimes," he said.

Nine Members of Parliament had participated in the bill's debate session.

They consisted of five MPs from the Perikatan Nasional (PN) opposition bloc, namely Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin (PN-Masjid Tanah), Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal (PN-Machang), Latiff Abdul Rahman (PN-Kuala Krai), Datuk Ahmad Saad @ Yahaya (PN-Pokok Sena), and Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim (PN-Arau).

Meanwhile, another four MP from the government bloc were Teresa Kok Suh Sim (PH-Seputeh), M.Kulasegaran (PH-Ipoh Barat), Abdul ; Chiew Choon Man (PH-Miri), and RSN Rayer(PH-Jelutong).