NGO opposes move to abolish death penalty, demands referendum

KUALA LUMPUR: Gerakan Pembela Ummah (Ummah) today called on the government to have a referendum on whether the death penalty is necessary.

At the same time, the NGO stated its stand that the death penalty should be retained to control crime which it said was “very high” at present.

It said in a statement that “precious taxpayers’ money” was being used to keep criminals, especially those who committed heinous crimes alive, “compromising the public’s access to funds for other higher priorities and compromising our rule of law and our safety”.

Therefore, Ummah said the taxpayers’ consent was “definitely needed” before the government decided to abolish the death penalty.

“The government should put the interests of the public, the interests of 33 million Malaysians, first — not the interests of the 1,281 inmates on death row.

“The human rights and safety of the majority public should come first.”

Ummah said studies showed that capital punishment deterred crime and saved lives, but it did not give any details about these studies, including who conducted them and where.

It said, however, that the death penalty was “ineffective due to weak enforcement of our laws”.

Noting that the country needed funds, Ummah said money used to house and care for criminals sentenced to death could be better spent on healthcare, welfare, education and infrastructure for the majority public.

It called on Putrajaya to follow the “good example” of Asian nations such as Singapore, China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and India in retaining the death penalty.

Ummah said the majority of Malaysians, being Muslim, followed Islamic law, which accepted capital punishment.

“We must not let our country and our laws to be manipulated by criminals or NGOs backed by criminals on the pretext of meeting international standards of human rights,” it said.

Ummah said there was a conflict of interest in that lawyers who acted in the best interest of their clients, including criminals, were asking for the death penalty to be dropped.

It urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to probe this conflict of interest.

The NGO called on the government to immediately lift the moratorium on the death penalty.

It wants the government to keep the death penalty and let judges have the discretion to decide on cases based on evidence and to let the Pardons Board review cases that may point to elements of miscarriage of justice.

“Address the areas of concern by redrafting the laws for drug-related cases separately.”

The NGO called for a full disclosure by all ministers and MPs, particularly lawyers, about their interest, directly or indirectly, in the 1,281 inmates on death row.

Ummah also urged the public to continue to support a petition to keep the death penalty.