MP SPEAKS Today, Oct 10 is the 14th World Day Against the Death Penalty and currently in Malaysia, according to a parliamentary reply last year, 629 Malaysians and 413 foreigners are currently awaiting executions on our very own soil.
To date, 103 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, six for ordinary crimes, 31 as abolitionists in practice, and 140 countries that have removed capital punishment in law and practice. To date, 58 are still retentionist countries.
Malaysia, a country in its 59th year of independence, is sadly still a retentionist country along with other nations that are facing civil wars, rotting human rights standards, gross social and economic inequalities, high crime rates including sexual violence against women and children and human trafficking, slavery, corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
The most recent statement by the former law minister Nancy Shukri, stated that after three years of research by the International Centre for Law and Legal Studies (I-Cells), the recommendations by the study would be put forth by the cabinet soon.
However, her statement clearly has shifted the goal post by now pinning the reason for delay to include that of public opinion calling for “an eye for an eye”. This, once again has thrown a spanner in the works and the cabinet is silent (again) on abolishing the mandatory death penalty.
Not a deterrent
If the Malaysian government feels that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime, then it should reflect on the other countries that it is lumped together with, namely Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad And Tobago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, USA, Vietnam, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
Not shockingly, according to the United Nations office on drugs and crime statistical reports, and to the national crime index reports, reports on national corruption and reports of non-government paramilitary actions, some of the nations that have the highest crime rates also have the death penalty used with the intention to deter crimes.
These countries like Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria, South Sudan are retentionist countries and yet are listed as some of the most dangerous countries in the world this year.
The government had expressed its intentions to abolish the mandatory death penalty last year in November, but it is coming to a year now and no amendments have been tabled yet including what will be in this October's sitting.
With the occurrence of crime increasing by the day, be it murders, kidnapping, drug smuggling, child abuse, rape, extortion, burglary, and terrorist-linked activities, it is high time the Home Ministry and the Attorney-General's Chambers put their heads together to reevaluate initiatives, alphabet-soup programmes as well as crime-combating activities to reduce crime in Malaysia.
Crime-free Vision 2020?
Of course, ending crime is a rather utopian concept to many sceptics out there, but it should not deter Malaysians and the Malaysian authorities to work towards it.
After all, is Malaysia not four years away from being a developed nation in year 2020?
Clearly, the death penalty has NOT deterred crime in Malaysia and nether should it be a regarded as a solution to reducing crime in the nation.
Malaysia has four years left to find its moral compass to end crime, not end life, if it wants to be respected in the eyes of other progressive, democratic nations.
KASTHURI PATTO is DAP's Batu Kawan MP.