Bill to abolish death penalty may be tabled at next Parliament sitting

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong.

PETALING JAYA: A Bill to abolish the death penalty is expected to be tabled at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong said today.

“This is a major development for the country.

“I hope a memorandum can be completed for the Cabinet to approve so that the abolition Bill can be tabled in Parliament,” he said during a talk on law reforms at Universiti Malaya.

He said the Cabinet met this morning and discussed the issue.

The Dewan Rakyat sitting starts on Monday.

Kua Kia Soong, director of Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), had previously said the Pakatan Harapan coalition should have been able to put an end to the death penalty within its first 100 days of government.

He said PH reforms urgently needed to uphold human rights in Malaysia.

A few days ago, Liew said that in reviewing the punishment, various aspects would be considered to ensure appropriate punishment is meted out to offenders, particularly for murder and terrorism.

In Malaysia, the mandatory death penalty is handed down for crimes such as murder with intent to kill, trafficking excessive amounts of drugs and possession of firearms.

Liew said the government is also looking at those in death row now.

“We do not want the death penalty any more.”

The talk on law reforms was attended by law students from Universiti Malaya, who also asked the law minister on various current issues.

On child marriages, the students felt there were too many cases of underage girls getting married and asked what measures were being taken to stop this.

Liew said the minister in charge of women, family and community development, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, was looking into the matter.

“The consensus is to limit child marriages to 18. Meaning that if you are below 18, you cannot get married.”

He said there were communities that wanted their children to be married off as early as possible.

“Sometimes, this happens because there are too many people in a house or the other side needs extra hands for farming. These are isolated cases.”

However, he said the government is in the final stage of examining the issue and a Bill should be tabled in Parliament soon by Wan Azizah’s ministry.

Liew also said people are free to criticise any politician for their action and conduct “but you must be guided by principles enshrined in the law”.

Students also raised concerns on the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 which bars students from taking part in politics. Liew said the government is presently reviewing the act.

He was also asked by students if it was ethical for former Port Dickson MP Danyal Balagopal Abdullah to vacate his seat as it could be seen as “cronyism”.

Liew replied that under present laws, there were no restrictions for MPs to resign.

“That is his right. Once the seat is vacant, there will be a by-election. People in Port Dickson have the right to choose democratically who they want as an MP during the by-election.”