Dr Mahathir says Malaysia is not ready to sentence the corrupt to life imprisonment

Yesterday at at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that people who are corrupt must be punished, however he does not think that Malaysia is ready to sentence the corrupt to life imprisonment.

He added that while the Malaysian courts will sentence the corrupt to jail, some countries actually shot them instead, but that doesn’t solve the problem.

Responding to a question on whether he supported the death penalty for those found guilty of corruption, Dr Mahathir said “They (corrupt individuals) might be jailed. How long they need to be jailed depends on the extent of the corruption, and I think different levels of corruption need different punishment. But we have not reached the stage of having to sentence people for life.”

Dr Mahathir was at Oxford to deliver a lecture on “The Challenge of Good Governance in the Muslim World”.

In his lecture, Dr Mahathir spoke on the democratic system in Muslim nations, noting that Muslim countries need to spend more time to understand the workings of democracy when they want to adopt a democratic system. He extolled the power of the vote in a democracy and said you cannot have a democratic system without understanding that power.

He then went on to say that such Muslim countries are comfortable with the system of monarchy and the transition to a democratic has proven to be disastrous.

“Every time they try for a democratic system, there will be fighting among them and the countries can be almost destroyed,” he said.

He also noted that some Muslim countries cannot wait for a term to end and would rather have immediate change after an election. “(It’s) time for them to respect the vote and set up a government which uses power for the betterment of the country and people,” he said.

Going back to Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said that it is a Muslim country that adopted the democratic system rather successfully, adding that the system worked because the people of Malaysia found that while they have Rulers, they can also have a democratic system.

“We (in Malaysia) don’t like violence. We don’t overthrow a government until the government changes by itself,” he said.

Now, Dr Mahathir is clear on his stance that his country is not ready to sentence the corrupt to life in prison but Malaysia is still one of the few countries left that has the death penalty. It does seem contradictory to me that sentencing someone to death is acceptable but life imprisonment is not.