Human rights and death sentence can co-exist — Ko Chung Sen

MARCH 18 — First, I will like to clarify I had published all my statements regarding the abolition of mandatory death sentence in my personal capacity as an elected Adun. They were my views and the opinions of many people I spoke to. The statements were NOT the views of DAP and I hold no party position whatsoever.

I was never instructed by DAP top leaders to write on their behalf either. Some DAP leaders do support the total abolition of death sentence.

Yesterday, Latheefa Koya lashed out at DAP and me because of my support to the announcement by the deputy minister on abolition of mandatory death sentence as promised in the Pakatan Harapan GE14 manifesto.

This was totally uncalled for as she should have checked with any PH leaders, including DAP leaders. She will know easily this was a promise agreed on by all the component parties. How did she decide to attack DAP alone and not PKR, Amanah or Bersatu defies logic.

The Pakatan Harapan manifesto had the seal of approval in GE14 by majority of the millions of people of Malaysia. We are to honour the manifesto more than anything else and all decisions must be based on what are written inside. We can only improve on the promises or change them if forced to with the support of the majority of the people.

Otherwise we should wait for the next manifesto to be published and to seek people’s mandate again. Our job now is to concentrate on fulfilling the many promises made in the manifesto, but not the demands of the activists.

As we know, we have a moratorium on the death sentence at the moment and nobody on the death row is being executed. Even if death sentence is abolished, these inmates will still be required to serve a supposedly minimum 30-year life sentence.

By abolishing mandatory life sentence, majority of them, especially the drug mules will be able to look forward to having their lives spared. Isn’t it a remarkable improvement already? This is supported by most of the people. On the other hand, there are calls for death sentence to be the definitive punishment for corruption to prevent more mega scandals and kleptocracy.

We live in a country and a region where many people, the Asians in general, perceive justice for the victims to be more important than the human rights of criminals. The fact has been shown by the reality that most Asian countries have not abolished death sentence either, especially Singapore and Japan that are two of the richest and most developed nations on Earth.

We have to make sure the accused gets a fair trial and the judiciary process is robust and beyond abuse. The human rights of the accused and the justice for the victims as death sentence are not a zero sum game, they can co-exist.

Latheefa cannot pick and choose to attack anybody she likes with whatever standards she chooses to adopt. It will be an insult to a lot of the countries around us.

At the end, I will like to urge the activists to welcome the steps taken by the new government, not criticise them. Many inmates will be grateful for their lives to be spared.

The government will concentrate on making the lives of the hard working citizens who are paying taxes and law abiding, and above all, fulfill the promises in the GE14 manifesto. We can have both human rights and death sentence in Malaysia.

* Media statement by Ko Chung Sen, State Asemblyman for Kepayang, Perak on March 18, 2019.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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