KOTA KINABALU, Jan 18 — The government will not hold a referendum in deciding to abolish the death penalty, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said.
The government, he said, has yet to finalise the decision on the abolition of the death penalty as it is still in the process of being reviewed as well as waiting for feedback from several ministries and agencies before the proposal is tabled in Parliament.
“We are not going to have a referendum on this particular issue, that’s for sure,” he told reporters after attending the opening of the Legal Year (2019) ceremony for Sabah and Sarawak at the Kota Kinabalu Court Complex here today.
On Tuesday, former inspector-general of police Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor suggested that the government holds a referendum at the national level before making a decision to abolish the death penalty.
Abdul Rahim said the decision to abolish the death sentence was a very big decision and it was not appropriate to ignore public opinion before the matter was finally decided.
In another development, Liew said the proposal to extend the retirement age of judges to 70 years would be brought before the Cabinet for consideration as it is the standard retirement age adopted by the judiciary in the region.
Yesterday, Kinabatangan Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin in a statement expressed concern over the huge vacancy that will occur in the judiciary following the retirement of four top judges this year.
According to him, Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum will retire in April while the Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim will retire in May after six months of service extension.
Also retiring this year is Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop and Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk David Wong Dak Wah, in May and August respectively.
Bung Moktar therefore suggested that the government give consideration to amend the Federal Constitution to increase the service duration of judges to 70 years, including extending the appointment of the four top judges to continue serving until that age.
Earlier, Liew together with 177 legal practitioners from Sabah and Sarawak joined in the march for the opening of Sabah and Sarawak Legal Year 2019, this morning.
The 1.66-kilometre procession from Karamunsing Complex to the Kota Kinabalu Court Complex was led by the country’s chief judge accompanied by Attorney General Tommy Thomas.
Sabah has organised the programme for the past 18 years before being joined by Sarawak in 2009. It has become a platform for lawmakers to gather and set new goals in addition to sharing positive aspirations and achievements that can serve as performance indicators in the future. — Bernama