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KUCHING, March 9: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has demanded that the Federal government be transparent about the timeline for repealing Section 309 of the Penal Code to decriminalise suicide.
Dr Yii said the amendments should be tabled in the next Parliamentary session, at the very least.
In the meantime, the Demoractic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker also urged for a moratorium to immediately be declared on all prosecutions for suicide attempts and a national suicide registry to be set up to formulate targeted measures to be taken to address the rising suicide rate.
He emphasised that the outdated law should be repealed immediately to ensure that affected individuals receive the appropriate therapy, support and protection from unjust prosecution.
“I read with disbelief again and again how the government continues to delay the amendment of Section 309 of the Penal Code even though multiple promises and commitments have been made.
“The most recent coming from the de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi (Tuanku Jaafar) yesterday (March 8) who claimed that the proposed legal amendments will be submitted to Cabinet ‘soon’,” he stressed in a statement today.
Dr Yii asserted that “soon” is not a specific time frame, and that “soon” has been used as an excuse for the past few years, but nothing concrete has been done to address this issue.
Apart from that, he stated that decriminalising suicide would allow for greater openness in discussing suicide and mental health whereas criminalising the act may have a detrimental effect on individuals who require mental health services.
“Furthermore, criminalising suicide does not address the underlying factors such as poor mental health and arduous living conditions which drove the individual to attempt suicide in the first place. This is evidently seen more during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
Dr Yii urged the government to step up efforts to prevent suicides by increasing awareness and ensuring universal access to mental health services, particularly in rural areas.
Additionally, he believed the government should increase the number of mental health workers to meet the nation’s needs and ensure that everyone has access to high-quality healthcare. — DayakDaily