Former law minister aghast at jail sentence for attempted suicide

Former de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong says a man brought to court for attempted suicide needs medical attention, not a jail sentence.

PETALING JAYA: Former de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong has slammed the imprisonment of an unemployed man who attempted suicide in May.

He said this case reflected poor mental health treatment and the person needed proper medical attention.

“Sending them to prison is not the solution. It never has been and never will be,” Liew said in a statement today.

It was reported yesterday that an unemployed man who attempted suicide by using fragments of a broken window pane to stab himself was sentenced to a month’s jail by the Magistrate’s Court.

Magistrate Aina Azahra Arifin handed down the sentence on Jacob Stanley, 42, after he pleaded guilty to committing the act at a low-cost flat unit in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, at 11pm on May 17.

The charge was framed under Section 309 of the Penal Code, which provides for imprisonment of up to a year, a fine, or both upon conviction.

He added that during his tenure as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, in charge of legal matters, he had instructed the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to look into the decriminalisation of attempted suicide.

He said the framework would have had sufficient statutory mechanisms in place so that mandatory mental health support was extended in such cases.

He added that in December 2019, the AGC had informed him the amendments required to decriminalise attempted suicide could be tabled in Parliament as early as June 2020.

“I, therefore, believe the said amendments are now ready and must be laid before the Dewan Rakyat immediately. We cannot send any more individuals with underlying mental health conditions to prison.”

Liew said this case was a travesty of justice that needed further attention.

Liew also asked current de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan on whether the present Perikatan Nasional government would continue efforts to decriminalise attempted suicide.

“The minister needs to be more proactive on such issues. We must progress as a society and nation.”

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.