Following the announcement made by Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong regarding the Cabinet's decision to abolish the death penalty, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said that the Government will be reviewing the death penalty in relation to drug abuse.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (13 Nov), Mr Liew noted that the death penalty will be abolished for 32 offences under eight Acts of law, including Section 304 of the Penal Code on murder.
"Following the Cabinet decision, a Cabinet memorandum has been circulated to the relevant ministries for their comments and to get public feedback on it," he said, in response to a question from Member of Parliament Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen on whether there will be exceptions for cases involving extremely heinous crimes.
However, Dr Wan Azizah told reporters at the parliament lobby the next day that the Government is in the midst of studying the root of drug abuse as well as ways to deter drug-fuelled crimes effectively, given the recent case of 11-month-old Nur Muazara Ulfa who was abused by her babysitter's husband, which led to her severe injuries and subsequently her death.
“There are many crimes that involve drugs including the recent case involving the death of an 11-month-old baby.
“So we have to identify the root cause and we have to look at it from various angles on how to solve the problem,” said Dr Wan Azizah.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, added that the police from Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division (D11) at the Malaysian Royal Police Force headquarters revealed that crimes involving sexual abuse "mostly involve drug abuse, rather than an addiction problem" per se.
When asked to comment on calls to retain the death penalty in grievous cases involving murder with intent to kill, Dr Wan Azizah said that the matter has to be studied further.
She said that while "the mandatory death sentence had been abolished in countries such as Australia," the Malaysian Cabinet is still deliberating on "how to address the issue.”
Death penalty should be retained in "gruesome" murder cases: DAP legislator Ramkarpal Singh
Professing that while he has "always been an advocate of the abolishment of the death penalty," Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh however qualified the retention of the death penalty in "exceptional cases".
He was quoted as saying on Sunday (11 Nov) that the death penalty should be kept as the maximum form of sentencing in cases that "especially" involve "gruesome murders," particularly those involving the murder of children, "provided the evidence against such offenders is beyond any reasonable doubt."
Mr Ramkarpal also rebutted National Human Rights Society president Gurdial Singh Nijar's opinion that executing alleged perpetrators will not help families of murder victims heal from trauma, saying that "we cannot ignore" the concerns of the families of murder victims, adding that abolishing the death penalty may send a wrong message to such families - that is, that such heinous crimes are not being afforded the seriousness they truly warrant.
Majority of persons convicted and due for death penalty sentencing found guilty for drug trafficking, followed by murder: Deputy Minister of Defence Liew Chin Tong
As of October, there were 1,279 prisoners on death row, 932 of whom were convicted for drug trafficking, while 317 were convicted for murder, 13 for illegal possession of guns, and five for kidnapping, according to Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong.
Nine people were convicted of treason while two others were involved in collective robbery and murder.
One person was charged under the now-repealed Internal Security Act, added Mr Liew.