Bill to abolish death penalty will only be tabled later, says MP

Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh hopes the Bill to abolish the death penalty will be tabled in March.

KUALA LUMPUR: A Bill to abolish the death penalty will not be tabled at this parliamentary sitting, said Bukit Gelugor MP and vocal critic of the death penalty Ramkarpal Singh.

Last October, de facto law minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong had confirmed that the death penalty would be abolished for 33 offences, including murder.

“This is obviously not going to happen at this sitting and there is no official reason being given as to why,” Ramkarpal said at a forum on the abolition of the death penalty, organised by the Bar Council’s human rights committee.

“We hope to see it being tabled at the next sitting in March,” he added.

Crimes against kids

Ramkarpal said the abolition of the death penalty, as promised in the PH manifesto, was “all-encompassing”. It was for offences which carry both the discretionary and mandatory death penalty.

“Certain offences such as crimes against children and sexual offences have raised debate as to whether or not the country is ready to totally abolish the discretionary death penalty,” he said.

He said this had resulted in the government taking a step back to consider the views of all the stakeholders who have an interest in the issue.

“We have to accept the fact that not everybody is anti-death penalty. A responsible government has to take into account the views of all the stakeholders.”

Ramkarpal had previously stated that the death penalty could be retained in certain cases.

“When I said the death penalty could be retained in certain cases, I meant it in the context of new identifiable offences. I don’t mean this discretion should be applied to the current offences that we have.”

He gave as example repeat offenders or offenders who were caught “red-handed” for specific crimes, although he did not go into the details.

However, Ramkarpal stressed that the government’s view was that the death penalty must go.

“It is this responsibility of considering the views of all stakeholders that has resulted in the delay in tabling the Bill at this parliamentary sitting.”