Friday, March 02, 2012

Nazri: Oppose strongly if you want death penalty abolished (Star 2/3/2012)

Maybe Malaysians should take this call for the abolition of death penalty and act. Maybe media statements need to be issued stating our call for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, what is bad is that the death penalty is still in our laws, whereby  in many cases it is a mandatory death penalty, which means once a judge finds a person guilty of the said crime, there is no option available to the judge save to hand down the sentence of death by hanging.

Death penalty is now being imposed for even crimes where no death or even grievous injury was caused.

The argument that death penalty will be a deterrent is lame, and there has been no evidence that it has had the effect of deterring any crime. In fact, today we have so many options including life imprisonment, not in the usual sense but for one's entire life, and this in fact is much more scary for perpetrators of serious crime.

The Malaysian Bar and many many other Malaysians have called for the abolition of the death penalty, and maybe now is the time for all good people of Malaysia to also call for the abolition of the death penalty from our laws. Sadly, some political party fears taking a clear position on the death penalty for fear of loss of votes in upcoming elections, especially amongst the Muslim voters given the fact that Islam itself provides for the death penalty for certain crimes, but really, my belief, is that most Malaysian, Muslims included, would prefer that the death penalty be abolished.

First, we must realize that in Malaysian laws, death penalty is there for crimes that do not even provide for death penalty in Islam. Examples of this is drug trafficking, possession of firearms, armed robbery,... But even in Islam, there are options where mercy and compensation can come in, and a person can escape death. 

Secondly, the death penalty in Malaysian laws is in the civil laws, not the Islamic laws, which are really different when it comes to required standards of evidence, etc..

But, alas many political parties would rather take a 'safe' stance than a principled stance on the question of death penalty. It is for this reason, that UMNO's Muslim Minister, Nazri Aziz, stands out  in a positive way when it comes to the question of the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia.

Will we, Malaysians, NOW also bravely stand forward and declare that we too call for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is open to views on the death penalty but it would require strong opposition from the people to abolish it, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz.

He said the Government had shown its determination for reformation by abolishing some laws which were considered draconian in the past two years.

“Certainly, the death penalty is something you can discuss with the Government.

“There must be a mass movement and strong opposition from the people for us to abolish the death penalty.

“Otherwise, nothing will change,” he said at a debate to abolish the death penalty here yesterday.

“Personally, I am all for the abolition,” he said.

Nazri said the Malays and Muslims were rigid when it came to the death sentence as they believed it was an issue of an eye for an eye, adding that it was important to convince them that this was not so.

“In Islam, a murderer is provided a way out of the offence that he or she had committed by paying compensation or blood money' to the victims or their family members.

“The family has the right to say that the murderer should be spared,” said Nazri.

On the deportation of Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari, Nazri said the Government would be hypocritical if it did not deport him because the death penalty was also implemented in Malaysia.

“It would have been inconsistent if we were one of the European Union countries.

“But the penalty is what we currently impose and we do not want to be looked upon as hypocritical,” he said.

Kashgari, 23, was arrested last month at KL International Airport at the request of Saudi Arabian authorities.

The columnist had posted a series of tweets on Prophet Muhammad that allegedly tantamount to blasphemy, an offence punishable by death. - Star, 2/3/2011, Nazri: Oppose strongly if you want death penalty abolished

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