Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) applauds the Malaysia government in the historic move to abolish the mandatory death penalty. Though the death penalty continues to exist in Malaysia, this abolishment would empower the judge with the discretion to mete out alternative sentencing. We also welcome that the cabinet agreed on the abolishment after the Law Minister had presented a report on alternative sentencing as SUARAM has always advocated that the application of alternative sentencing is far superior to the death penalty as the latter betrays the principle of human rights and also seen as cruel, inhumane, and degrading under international law.
According to Amnesty International, the death penalty is still admissible for around 30 offences in Malaysia, of which 11 offences are mandatory punishment. The stark reality remains that there are still 1,366 number of people on death row as of September 2021, while a significant majority of them were found guilty under section 39(B) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952. Therefore, we are also delighted that the government, in working towards abolishing mandatory death penalty, will be looking into revising section 39(B) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
SUARAM maintains the view that Malaysia should be looking at the total abolishment of the death penalty. Nevertheless, the announcement today is a significant step forwards toward seeing a Malaysia that is free from the inhumane practice of death penalty.