Putrajaya reaffirms commitment to decriminalise attempted suicide

De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong says attempted suicide is a mental health condition and must be treated accordingly.

PETALING JAYA: De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong today reaffirmed the government’s commitment to decriminalise attempted suicide, stating that he was hopeful that amendments to the Penal Code would be tabled as early as mid-2020.

The minister issued the statement following reports on the sentencing of a disabled man who tried to hang himself in Kuala Terengganu on Dec 23.

The man was yesterday sentenced by a magistrate to six months in prison under Section 309 of the Penal Code for attempted suicide.

Liew said that attempted suicide, or any form of self-harm, was a mental health condition and must be treated accordingly.

“I announced last year that the government is studying the decriminalisation of suicide. We remain firm in seeing this through,” he said in the statement.

“Based on current progress, and subject to approval from the Cabinet, I am hopeful that we will see the amendments to the Penal Code decriminalising suicide tabled as early as mid-2020.”

Liew said the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) had been actively reviewing how the decriminalisation of suicide might be holistically undertaken.

“There must first be sustainable and viable mechanisms in place for these
individuals to access mental healthcare before the law is amended to decriminalise suicide.

“What exactly these mechanisms will be and how they will operate is being
studied at the moment.”

In a separate statement, Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) called on the attorney-general to review the case and refer it to the High Court.

Eric Paulsen, Malaysia’s Representative to the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), had also spoken out about the sentence – stating on his Twitter account that such cases should not be prosecuted as they did not benefit any party.