KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — Malaysia may finally see the end of the decades long practice of mandatory death sentence imposed on some serious crimes, most notably for drug-related offences, if de facto law minister Nancy Shukri gets her way.
The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said today she hopes to take her proposal to amend the Penal Code and abolish the mandatory death sentence to the Dewan Rakyat as early as March next year.
“It is not easy to amend, but we are working on it. I hope to table it next year in March,” Nancy told reporters after attending a roundtable discussion on the abolition of the mandatory death penalty in Parliament here.
Under Malaysia’s current law, the death sentence is a must for firearms, drugs, treason and murder related offences.
However, Nancy said the threat of a death penalty has done little to reduce the number of such crimes committed.
In a written reply to Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran dated November 3, Nancy cited statistics from the Prisons Department and said there are currently 1,022 convicted inmates awaiting execution.
However, she said the sentences could not be carried out as the inmates are still appealing the court’s decision.
“From 1998 till October 6 this year, 33 prisoners have been executed for their involvement in various crimes.
“In the same period, 127 inmates on death row received lighter sentences or clemency after the State Pardons Board had considered their pleas and petitions under Order 114 of the Prisons Regulations 2000,” Nancy said in the written reply.
Kulasegaran had asked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to state if necessary laws will be amended to abolish the death sentence and if not, why.
He also asked to specify the numbers of those executed by the court between 1957 till 2015.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, a former senior judge, recently weighed in on the mandatory death penalty too, saying in an interview with The Malaysian Insider last weekend that he wished the courts had discretion on sending convicts to the gallows or otherwise.