Death penalty repeal could reach Parliament in March, says minister

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Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the government has taken everything into consideration for the Cabinet to decide on the abolition of the mandatory death sentence. — Picture by Roysten Rueben
Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the government has taken everything into consideration for the Cabinet to decide on the abolition of the mandatory death sentence. — Picture by Roysten Rueben
SKANDAR PUTERI, Feb 14 — The proposed repeal of the death penalty could be tabled in Parliament next month if the Cabinet agrees to it, said Datuk Liew Vui Keong.

The legal affairs minister said the government has taken everything into consideration for the Cabinet to decide on the matter.

“If the Cabinet agrees to it, then it will be brought to the Parliament in March,” he said after visiting the proposed site of the new Johor Baru Court Complex in Kota Iskandar here today.

The next Parliamentary sitting will take place from March 11 to April 11.

The abolition involves 33 offences provided for under eight Acts including Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.

At present, there are some 1,200 people on death row for crimes including murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking in Malaysia.

On a separate matter, Liew said the government has no intention to introduce lese majeste laws, similar to Thailand’s to protect the Malay rulers here.

He said that Malaysia has adequate laws to protect the Malay rulers and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or King, who is also the supreme head of the country.

However, Liew did not rule out the possibility that the government may amend or introduce new laws to further protect the rulers.

“We practise a constitutional monarchy system here where we have a Parliament and the King is the supreme authority based on the constitution.

“People are free to voice out their views but there must be a limitation and not go against the law by making allegations or defaming our rulers,” said Liew.

Earlier this month, a trader was arrested in Kuantan, Pahang for allegedly insulting Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah on Facebook. The 45-year-old man is being investigated under the Sedition Act of 1948.

Aside from that, three social media account owners have also been arrested under the same Act after posting comments insulting Sultan Muhammad V in relation to his decision to step down from the position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Despite Malaysia only having a constitutional monarchy system since 1957, several of Malaysia's nine royal families have their roots in centuries-old Malay kingdoms that were until they were brought together by the former British colonials.

Although largely seen as a ceremonial post, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong still signs off on most laws and appointments, including that of the country’s prime minister.

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