KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — The editors of Utusan Malaysia today urged Putrajaya not to be hasty with ending the mandatory death sentence for 33 crimes, including murder.
At the same time, they also said that the civil courts could follow the Islamic approach that consults the family of the victim on the appropriate punishment, instead of simply giving judges full discretionary powers on sentencing.
“The government does not need to rush. It is unfair to repeal an Act, solely by the insistence of a particular party, or because of the general election promises,” the Malay daily said in its editorial column under the collective pen name Awang Selamat used by its editors.
It added that the interests of all parties should be considered.
“The families of victims who died a cruel death deserve the right defence. Consideration of this punishment should not be made based on a specific case alone,” it added.
The daily said serious crimes such as murder, drug trafficking and treason threaten public order and deserve heavier punishments.
And while Utusan acknowledged that the death sentence had failed to deter such serious crimes, it advocated for the capital punishment to be retained, saying criminals may resort to “other considerations” once they know they won’t be hanged.
However, it suggested an alternative approach based on Islamic tenets be applied in cases where the accused is found guilty and face the death sentence.
“Perhaps the suggestion to adopt the Islamic law approach as an alternative to the death sentence can be considered towards inmates who are sentenced to death.
“Meaning, the victim’s family may give an opinion on the appropriate punishment,” Utusan said, adding that “punishment is not to torture but as a deterrent.”
De facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong announced that the death sentence will be abolished for 33 crimes under eight legislations, and will be replaced with life imprisonment without chance for parole.
They include crimes such as homicide, and those listed under the Firearms (Heavier Penalties) Act 1971; Firearms Act 1960, Kidnapping Act 1961, Armed Forces Act 1972; Water Services Industries Act 2006; Strategic Trade Act 2010 and Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.