Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail stated on Friday (29 June) that the Malaysian government is looking into the need to make amendments to do away with the mandatory death penalty in legislation pertaining to criminal offences.
She said that, currently, the government had deferred the death penalty for drug-related offenders.
Speaking at a media conference after launching EduWAQF, an educational ‘wakaf’ (Islamic endowment) initiated by AWQAF Holdings Berhad, the deputy said, “The last Cabinet meeting resolved to implement the government decision to defer the death penalty imposed on 17 people convicted of drug offences.”
“”In a broader context, we also touched on the need to consider whether the same thing can be applied for offenders in other crimes,” she added.
Ms Wan Azizah said this measure would enable Sirul Azhar Umar, who was convicted and sentenced to death over the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, to return to Malaysia from Australia if he wanted to.
The deputy said that according to the law, Sirul Azhar, who had sought protection in Australia, was unlikely to be allowed to return to Malaysia so long as he had to face a death penalty upon his coming back.
She then added, “That’s why we are discussing whether it is necessary for us to change the sentence or replace it with any penalty.”
It was reported earlier that Australia authorities had allowed a Malaysian request for Sirul Azhar to be extradited on condition that Malaysia agreed to bear the costs but the former Special Action Unit member reportedly refused to return home for fear of having to face the death penalty.