Do away with death sentences, reiterates NGO

A file photo of Mark (right) thanking Counsellor of Royal Embassy of Cambodia Kuala Lumpur Suos Sophal (centre) after receiving an appreciation letter. Also seen is Softaa volunteer activist Michael Choo.

KUCHING, May 23: The Society for Tolerance And Awareness (Softaa) has reiterated calls for the government to review the death penalty laws, including the one under the Dangerous Drugs Act.

“It (the death penalty) does not deter the criminals. It must be noted that there is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters more crime effectively than a prison term,” said Softaa secretary-general Mark Murau Simon.

He cited the case of Kong Rin, a Cambodian national, who was charged under Section 39B (1)(A) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and punishable under Section 39B (1)(A) of the same Act.

The Federal Court had on March 19 this year unanimously set aside the conviction and death sentence imposed on the Cambodian man by the High Court and Court of Appeal last year.

He pointed out that Kong Rin was lucky to get 20 years imprisonment commencing from the date of arrest on Nov 27, 2013, in front of the exit gate of the arrival hall of Sibu Airport.

“In this case, a survey needed to be carried out whether to abolish the death penalty. Our country is making significant progress, including on human rights issue and respecting human dignity,” he said.

“The notion of retributive justice is no longer relevant as it is reflective of the level of cruelty perpetrated by those who commit crimes.”

He reiterated that the death penalty did not necessarily lower crime rates and that long term imprisonment would be a good and more humane solution.

The Malaysian government had announced in November last year that there were plans to abolish the death penalty for 32 offences under eight acts of law.

Examples of these offences include murder, kidnapping, gun use, drug trafficking, acts of terrorism and involvement in the creation or shipping of weapons of mass destruction.

However, on March 13 this year, Malaysia rolled back on earlier plan to completely repeal the death penalty, saying that while the government would abolish mandatory capital punishment, it would leave it to the courts to decide whether a person convicted of a serious crime will hang.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, recently told Parliament that the mandatory death penalty for 11 criminal offences would be repealed. — DayakDaily