KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — The abolishment of the mandatory death penalty will come into force tomorrow as the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act 2023 has been gazetted.

Malay Mail’s check with the Malaysia Federal Legislation website showed the gazettement dated June 30, 2023 and signed by de facto law minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said was uploaded today.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by subsection 1(2) of the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act 2023 (Act 846), the minister appoints July 4 2023 as the date on which the Act comes into operation,” said the statement.

The Dewan Rakyat passed the Bill proposing to make the death penalty an option and no longer mandatory after it was tabled for its third reading on April 3.

The Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill would give judges the discretion on the death penalty rather than requiring them to do so when convicting on offences that made them mandatory.

The amendments in the Bill also include replacing life and natural life imprisonment (until death) as an alternative to the mandatory death sentence, with the new alternative of jail of between 30 and 40 years as well as no fewer than 12 strokes of the cane.

The Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said on March 27 this year.

Azalina’s predecessor, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, had tabled a similar piece of legislation on October 6, 2022, but Parliament’s dissolution to pave the way for the 15th General Election meant it was never put before lawmakers for debate.

Since July 2018, Malaysia has placed a de facto moratorium on executions pending institutional reforms undertaken by the various administrations that have existed in that time.

The last death row prisoner was hanged in 2017 but because legislation carrying the mandatory death penalty has remained effective, the courts have been bound to continue sentencing defendants to death despite the moratorium on executions.

Read here for Malay Mail's explainer on the brief history of capital punishment and death row inmates in Malaysia.