KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Imprisonment for an extended period of time, along with whipping, is seen as the most appropriate alternative punishment for the 11 offences which lead to the mandatory death penalty, said Ramkarpal Singh.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) said the alternative to the mandatory death penalty must be commensurate with the seriousness of the crime committed by the offender, and not result in incongruity with other less serious punishments.
“The combination of imprisonment and whipping is appropriate, so that it is seen as a heavier punishment compared with other crimes,” he said when tabling the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 in the Dewan Rakyat today.
The bill, which aims to abolish the mandatory death penalty, changes the punishment to life imprisonment and whipping, as well as providing for matters related to it through the amendment of seven related laws, was then approved after the third reading, with 10 Members of Parliament participating in the debate.
Through the bill, the court has the discretion to impose the death penalty or imprisonment for a period of not less than 30 years but not more than 40 years, and if not sentenced to death, must also be punished with at least 12 strokes of the rattan.
It involves offences (in the Penal Code) such as Section 121A, which is an offence against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Ruler or Yang di-Pertuan Negeri; Section 130C (committing terrorist acts), Section 130I (directing the activities of a terrorist group) and section 302 (committing murder).
Ramkarpal said that long-term imprisonment is also intended to give prisoners the opportunity to apply for parole after serving a period of imprisonment.
However, he said that parole eligibility is still subject to an amendment to section 46E of the Prison Act 1995 (Act 537).
In addition, he said the drafting of the bill was an omnibus act because it included amendments to the Penal Code; Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971; Arms Act 1960; Kidnapping Act 1961; Dangerous Drugs Act 1952; Strategic Trade Act 2010; and the Criminal Procedure Code.
He said that the criminal justice system in Malaysia was created a long time ago, and there are many existing provisions which are no longer relevant to the current crime.
“In this regard, the government’s decision regarding the abolition of the mandatory death penalty is seen as the right step in efforts to create a legal system which is dynamic, progressive and relevant to current needs,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Dewan Rakyat also passed the Revision of Sentence of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Bill 2023.
The bill seeks to empower the Federal Court to retrospectively review death sentences previously delivered, for offences where it was mandatory upon conviction, following the abolition of the mandatory death penalty.
Earlier, the Finance Bill 2023 and the Windfall Profit Levy (Validation) Bill 2023 were also approved.
The Dewan Rakyat sitting continues tomorrow.