KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said the abolition of the death penalty has yet to be finalised, and that the necessary legislation is still being drafted.
“We have not asked the legislation required in order to abolish [the death penalty]. Just saying it doesn’t mean that the punishment has been abolished.
“It’s not yet abolished and we have to wait until we pass the necessary Act to repeal the death penalty,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the tabling of the Bill to abolish the death penalty is being finalised and will be pushed to be tabled in the current Parliament meeting.
Despite the outcry from the families of murder victims, Liew said the move has to be done in total and not carried out half-heartedly.
“I can understand the feelings of the victims, it is very painful. But the government’s intention is to abolish [the death penalty]... we cannot do it half-heartedly... not abolishing for one offence and abolishing for another.
“We want to abolish all death penalties,” he said, adding that the people have to understand that abolishing the capital punishment does not mean convicts will be set free.
He said the sentence of the convicts will be commuted to imprisonment for life — where the inmates will serve the rest of their sentence in prison without any release date — or life imprisonment — in which the inmates will serve time for a minimum of 30 years.
“There is a moratorium now to ensure all this will be brought to the Pardons Board for the necessary adjustments... doesn’t mean that they will be free, they will have to serve their sentences.”
Liew said that there are currently 1,267 prisoners on death row, which includes 900 inmates convicted of drug-related offences, namely trafficking in dangerous drugs or offence 39B under the Penal Code.
He said at present, there are no pending executions for drug-related offences as the Heads of State have not signed any execution orders.
* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.