A Pakatan Harapan lawmaker has rebutted claims by human rights groups that the government was making a U-turn on the abolition of the death penalty.
DAP's Kepayang assemblyperson Ko Chung Sen (photo above) pointed out that the government's move to only abolish the mandatory death penalty was consistent with Harapan's manifesto.
He noted that Lawyers For Liberty had accused the government of making a U-turn while Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) called for the abolition of the death penalty in full.
"Both the Lawyers for Liberty and Madpet will do well to go back to the Harapan 14th general election manifesto.
"It was clearly stated that in page 61 of the English version, under Promise 27: 'the Harapan government will revoke the following laws: Mandatory death by hanging in all Acts'," he said in a statement today.
Ko said it was "not correct" for the unelected NGOs to demand elected representatives to implement something contrarian to their manifesto and the wishes of the people.
He noted that several online surveys have found strong public support for retaining the death penalty but giving discretion to judges.
Ko also rubbished arguments that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent.
"This is definitely a very biased view to generalise the stupidity of 1,267 death row inmates who thought they could escape justice," he said.
While he acknowledged that mistakes could be made in meting out the death penalty, Ko said there was no evidence that it had happened.
The government had initially planned to abolish the death penalty in full despite its manifesto only mentioning the mandatory death penalty.
"We cannot do it half-heartedly like abolishing the death penalty for one offence and keeping it for another. We want to abolish all death penalties," Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong had said.
However, after strong opposition, the government backtracked and announced that it will only abolish the mandatory death penalty.
The abolition of the mandatory death penalty would give discretion to judges to decide whether to mete out such a punishment.