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Mandatory death penalty to be replaced by discretionary death penalty: Maidin

13 Mar 2019 / 13:31 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The mandatory death penalty in the country will be abolished, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin announced today.

The deputy minister in charge of law said the government has decided not to do away with the capital punishment in its entirety, and would instead give discretionary powers to judges in sentencing only offences currently carrying the mandatory death penalty.

He said this would affect nine offences under the Penal Code and a further two offences under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971.

“The government has decided to only abolish the mandatory death penalty, meaning we will have to make some amendments (to the law), as promised in Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto.

“We intend to replace this mandatory death penalty, provided under the Penal Code and Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, to a discretionary death penalty by the court,” he told the Dewan Rakyat.

Mohamed Hanipa was responding to a question from Datuk Che Abdullah Mat Nawi (PAS-Tumpat) on whether a detailed sturdy was conducted before a decision was made on abolishing the death penalty.

Asked if the government intends to set up a parliamentary select committee before the bill for the amendments are tabled in the Dewan Rakyat, Hanipa said there were no such plans at the moment, explaining that a detailed study was already being conducted.

“However, I will take into consideration this suggestion and forward it to the Cabinet,” he said, adding that the bill for the amendments was currently being prepared by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

However, when met by reporters later, de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the government’s decision was not yet final, and that the matter was still a work in progress as it considers three options.

“Our first option is to totally abolish the death penalty. The second option is to look into the removal of the mandatory death sentence only.

“As for the third option, it is to remove the current discretionary powers of the judge when sentencing for offences under the Dangerous Drugs Act and commute it into life imprisonment.

“So all of this are still under consideration,” he said, adding that the government expects to table the amendments in the current parliamentary session.

The nine offences under the Penal Code carrying the mandatory death penalty are Section 121A (offences against the person of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Ruler or Yang di-Pertua Negeri); Section 130C (committing terrorist acts); Section 130I (directing activities of terrorists groups); Section 130N (providing or collecting property for terrorist acts); Section 130O (providing services for terrorist purposes); Section 130QA (accepting gratification to facilitate or enable terrorists acts); Section 130ZB (accepting gratification to facilitate or enable organised criminal activity); Section 302 (murder); and Section 374A (hostage-taking).

The two offences under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act are Section 3 (discharging a firearm in the commission of a scheduled offence) and Section 3A (accomplices in case of discharge of firearm).

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