GEORGE TOWN: The cabinet has drawn praise from a human rights advocate for its move to handle the proposed abolition of the death penalty early by affirming in March that it plans to do away with mandatory capital punishment.
National Human Rights Society (Hakam) treasurer Ngeow Chow Ying singled out the move to do away with mandatory death sentence as one of the earliest promises of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election manifesto to be addressed.
She said that Hakam was caught a bit by surprise by the swiftness of the promise made by the cabinet.
“But we know that such a decision would need time to materialize as there are many areas which need attention and public awareness.”
She said that first stage would be to impose a moratorium where no death sentences would be carried out. And the reduction in capital punishments should be done in stages.
Ngeow said that Hakam and the Bar Council would do their part to provide alternatives to mandatory capital punishment.
She said that the premise to totally abolish the death sentence remains the aim for certain quarters, and hoped that the government can engage the various stakeholders on this matter.
This includes the police, who have a huge interest due to their need to enforce the laws and regulations, as well as crime prevention.
“We stand ready to hold dialogues with the police and any party who may continue to harbor reservations about abolishing the death penalty.”
The death sentence is widely practiced within the Asean region, except in Cambodia and the Philippines, the latter of which is now mulling bringing it back.
She said this after attending a talk with the title “Dealth Penalty Deserves A Quick Death.”
The privately organised event had four legal specialists including Ngeow address concerns from an audience of mostly young lawyers.
Also present was Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto.
Besides Ngeow, the other speakers were Louis Liew Vern Xien, Farhana Abdul Halim and Vince Tan Hoo Seh.
It was announced that the mandatory death penalty for 11 criminal offences will be repealed, but ultimately the court will have the discretionary powers to decide if a death sentence is merited based on the severity of the crime.
Among the offences where mandatory death sentences are dropped are committing acts of terrorism, murder and hostage-taking.