Saturday, June 19, 2021

Cabinet(or PM), not KING with power in Malaysia with regard Emergency and Parliament? King's OPINION only?

Without Prime Minister Muhyiddin's Cabinet, the KING has no power to end Emergency faster or commence Parliament now...

Our Federal Constitution makes this VERY clear in Article 40, '...the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or of a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet, except as otherwise provided by this Constitution.

It is stressed again in Article 40(1A) '(1A) In the exercise of his functions under this Constitution or federal law, where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is to act in accordance with advice, on advice, or after considering advice, the Yang di- Pertuan Agong shall accept and act in accordance with such advice.

Article 40(2) tells us when the YDP Agung has the SOLE DISCRETION 

(2) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may act in his discretion in the performance of the following functions, that is to say:

(a) the appointment of a Prime Minister;

(b) the withholding of consent to a request for the dissolution of Parliament;

(c) the requisition of a meeting of the Conference of Rulers concerned solely with the privileges, position, honours and dignities of Their Royal Highnesses, and any action at such a meeting,

and in any other case mentioned in this Constitution.

Recently, the King or was it really the 'Conference of Rulers' that said that Parliament should sit soon... well, in my opinion, that is merely an opinion...and nothing will happen UNLESS Muhyiddin's Cabinet advice him to do so...

Would this fall under 'any other case mentioned in this Constitution', well, for that to happen, it must be CLEAR and SPECIFIC, for otherwise everywhere where we see the word that the King does this or that .... it really still means that he can only act on the advice of the Cabinet...

CABINET -  So, this means it is up to Muhyiddin, 31 Ministers and 38 Deputy Ministers - 70??? a very LARGE Cabinet..??? Will they now ADVICE the KING, or will they disregard the opinion/view or 'pronouncement/order' of the King?

 


Cabinet members cannot absolve themselves from the BLAMES and Criticisms of this ALL powerful Cabinet. If you disagree with a DECISION, then, of course, they can always express their personal view - which may be different from the view of the MAJORITY in Cabinet..

If it is something critical - they can always RESIGN as a form of protest... 

So, Malaysians MUST remember all these Cabinet Members when we suspect or later identify/confirm MISTAKES, Abuse of Powers, Kleptocracy, Corruption, Failings...must ACT - speak out. Remember they owe a duty to the RAKYAT(People).

Anwar Ibrahim, after he left the then UMNO-BN Cabinet, went around and said that he PROTESTED the use of the Internal Security Act(ISA) vis-a-vis Operation Lallang, the crackdown on Al-Arqam, etc - Would you believe him? Especially when there were no statements/reports of such 'protestation' in the public record or on social media...

The case was very different in the case of Muhyiddin Yassin and Shafie Apdal - they spoke up and for that they were out of Najib's Cabinet...

MALAYSIA is now a Constitutional Democracy, and no more a FEUDAL State. In a Feudal State, what the King says goes ....not in the case of Malaysia.

Malaysian King had much more power in the Federal Constitution - after Dewan Rakyat and the Senate approves a law, a law cannot become a law until it receives the King's Assent. That means that if King says NO to any law, that is it.

Then our UMNO-BN government, amended the Constitution to remove this power of the King. Now, the King has 30 days - and if he does not give his ASSENT within that time, it still becomes LAW. See Article 66 of the Federal Constitution. That amendment came by in 1994.

(4) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall within thirty days after a Bill is presented to him assent to the Bill by causing the Public Seal to be affixed thereto.

(4A) If a Bill is not assented to by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong within the time specified in Clause (4), it shall become law at the expiration of the time specified in that Clause in the like manner as if he had assented thereto.

The amendments were important to transform Malaysia into a DEMOCRACY where the ultimate power is with the People(RAKYAT) and no longer the King or the Rulers.  As mentioned earlier, there are very limited situations where the KING has the power to act on his own.

Now, when a EMERGENCY is proclaimed or extended, then, if the KING refuses to sign the such proclamations despite being 'advised by the Prime Minister', it may be that there can be no extension of the Emergency.

Article 66 dealt with laws passed by Parliament may not apply to EMERGENCY PROCLAMATIONS.

Our Federal Constitution need to be revisited - this time the Proclamation of Emergency suspended all State Legislative Assemblies - and there was no per-requirement of getting even the consent of the respective State Rulers or the State Cabinets...is this right? Remember Malaysia is a FEDERATION of independent States. Whilst Sabah and Sarawak has maintained their 'independence' in certain areas - Peninsular States seems to have happily surrendered too many things to the Federal Government - do we need to remedy this.

Now, even is an individual State wants to have LOCAL Council Elections in their State, they cannot do this because of a Federal Law. I think this is wrong - the power to hold State level Local Council Elections should be up to individual States..

It is good that the King(or was it the Rulers Council) that expressed a VIEW or OPINION that Parliament should commence sitting...

It may not be an ORDER that must be followed, but much pressure is exerted on the PM, the Cabinet and the MPs in the government parties - Do they obey with the King or not?   

Some State Assemblies are saying that they are going to commence in July ...but the question is whether they can or not? 

IMPORTANCE OF PARLIAMENT COMMENCING

By virtue of Article 150(3) - (3) A Proclamation of Emergency and any ordinance promulgated under Clause (2B) shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and, if not sooner revoked, shall cease to have effect if resolutions are passed by both Houses annulling such Proclamation or ordinance, but without prejudice to anything previously done by virtue thereof or to the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to issue a new Proclamation under Clause (1) or promulgate any ordinance under Clause (2B).

That means Parliament can END the Emergency and even get rid of the Emergency Ordinances.

By virtue of Article 150(8) - access to the Courts is CLOSED with regard the Proclamation or the Ordinance.

When Emergency ends, the 6 months later, all the Ordinances cease to have effect.  -'... shall cease to have effect, except as to things done or omitted to be done before the expiration of that period....'  

Wonder whether kleptocracy, corruption, abuse of powers and other crimes under these Emergency Ordinances can even be investigated and prosecuted - we need to look at this more later maybe...

Can King call Parliament sitting? No, says ex-judge; Yes, says lawyer

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Gopal Sri Ram says the King has to act on the advice of the prime minister but Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin says that under Section 14 of the Emergency Ordinance, the King can act on his own.

PETALING JAYA: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong must act on the advice of the prime minister or his Cabinet to reconvene Parliament although the nation is still under Emergency, a retired judge said.

Gopal Sri Ram said the King’s decision was not subject to any legal challenge but any advice given to him by the government could be reviewed by the courts.

“The prime minister’s advice to the King is justiciable (subject to legal challenge).

“A mandamus order can be obtained to compel the Cabinet to advise the King to convene Parliament if it is shown that the advice was unreasonable,” he told FMT.

Sri Ram said Article 40 (1) of the Federal Constitution also states the King as the constitutional monarch has to exercise his functions under the supreme law of the land or federal law, in accordance with advice given by a minister or the Cabinet.

“Federal law here means any act of Parliament or ordinance promulgated during an Emergency,” he said.

The former Federal Court judge was responding to Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad’s views that the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 promulgated in January allowed the King to call for Parliament to reconvene on a suitable date without the advice of the prime minister.

Khalid, who is chairman of the opposition’s Tamat Darurat committee, cited Section 14 of the ordinance.



Section 14 (1) (a) states: “For so long as the Emergency is in force, the provisions relating to the summoning, proroguing and dissolution of Parliament in the Federal Constitution shall not have effect.”

Section 14 (1) (b) also states: “The Parliament shall be summoned, prorogued and dissolved on a date as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong thinks appropriate.”

Taking this into account, lawyer Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin said he supported the position taken by Khalid as provided under the provision.

“The ordinance takes precedence over the constitution since we are under Emergency,” he said, adding that the King alone could decide on the appropriate time to reconvene the federal legislature.

Firoz Hussein said he was also taking the contrary view in interpreting the legal position compared to de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun.

The King, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, said yesterday that he wanted Parliament to reconvene as soon as possible, as it would allow MPs to debate the Emergency Ordinance and the government’s national recovery plan.

The Malay Rulers, who met yesterday, also said there was no need for the nation to remain under a state of emergency after Aug 1 and wanted state assemblies to also reconvene as soon as possible. - FMT, 14/6/2021

 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Constitution Guarantees Equality of ALL Persons - including Refugees/Asylum Seekers. Malaysia need LAW that recognizes these people?

 

Media Statement – 17/6/2021

Recognition including Covid-19 protection for Refugees and Asylum Seekers to Fulfil Constitutional Guarantee

Malaysia Needs Refugee and Asylum Seeker Act

MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) calls for legal recognition by law of Refugees and Asylum seekers in Malaysia. Currently, Malaysian law recognizes only documented migrants and undocumented migrants – it does not recognize refugees or asylum seekers.

Response to refugees based on vague non-transparent policy must end. Federal Constitution places an obligation to treat ALL in Malaysia equally – including foreigners, refugees, asylum seekers and the stateless, and such treatment in combatting Covid is certainly smart.

Malaysia, being not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which makes it all the more important for Malaysia to have its own law on refugees and asylum seekers, which will also clearly legalize the presence of refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, and also determine their rights and obligations in law.

Good caring history with regard refugees and asylum seekers

Malaysia has an impressive history of accepting and providing sanctuary for refugees including Vietnamese Boat People, Palestinians, people from Myanmar, Aceh and many others.

In May 2021, 179,570 refugees and asylum seekers were registered with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia. 156,000 from Myanmar, where about 103,000 were Rohingyans and the rest were Chin and people of other ethnic groups who fled conflict areas or persecution. There are refugees from 50 other countries, including Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Palestine. UNHCR figures may be low compared to the reality in the country.

Vague ever-changing Policy inadequate and unjust

Malaysian government response to date on refugees seems to be on the basis on unclear government policies of the government of the day, which is inadequate. One such policy seems to be a preferential treatment of undocumented migrants that have UNHCR cards or documentation, who will not be arrested as undocumented migrants, and will be released from detention if arrested. What about those still being or yet to be processed to determine whether they are refugees?

In the near past, Malaysia seemed to have accepted and provided for Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers, but this seems to have arbitrarily changed lately, when a poster by the National Task Force (NTF), had the words in Bahasa Malaysia, read (translation): "Ethnic Rohingya Migrants, Your Arrivals Are Uninvited".  The Prime Minister and the government of the day must explain, as currently no Minister is specifically tasked with responsibility for refugees and asylum seekers. Tomorrow, Malaysia may even oust Palestinian refugees.

We recall in February 2021, when the PN-BN plus Malaysian government, despite a court order, proceeded to send 1,086 individuals out of 1,200 back to Myanmar – when many sent back could have been refugees or asylum seekers based on international standards. Until determination of whether one is a refugee or an asylum seeker is made, no one seeking such status should be deported. A specific law on refugees and asylum seekers will have to cover applicant for refugee status.

Opposition parties position on refugees, asylum seekers and migrants?

In Anwar Ibrahim, the Opposition leader’s Tweeter account, in 2020 June, a reply to his tweet reminds us that  ‘Refugees are among the most vulnerable people in this world that have fled their homes and country to avoid a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, social affiliations or political opinion.’

Anwar himself exercised this right of an asylum seeker, when he sought temporary asylum in the Turkish embassy in 2008, and as such he and the Pakatan Harapan really should be for the protection of refugee and asylum seeker’s rights. Many of our politicians also experienced persecution under the Internal Security Act(ISA) and other laws, and as such should understand the need for a refugee and asylum seeker law.

Alas, when Pakatan Harapan Plus government was in power, and even today, one is still unclear on the position of PH, PKR, DAP, Warisan, PAS  and the other parties on the issue of refugees and asylum seekers – maybe the silence is simply a ‘strategy’ to not affect votes come next elections. This is sad, as we expect these ‘alternative leaders and parties’ to clearly express their position on all issues affecting Malaysia including on migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers – what will they do if we, the people, give them the power to govern.

Equal Treatment of ALL Persons, CRC and Human Rights obligations

Education and registration of births for these asylum seekers and refugees is also a major concern. A clear law will be able to overcome these problems, more so since it also affects many children, and Malaysia has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995. How many children of asylum seekers and refugees are denied birth certificates, education and other fundamental rights?

Malaysia, being a caring nation, should be different from some other countries in the treatment of refugees and/or asylum seekers.

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), recently also stated, that “The government should commit to strictly observe the international principle of non-refoulement of refugees and asylum seekers and instead undertake to protect and provide the migrant and refugee community with the necessary assistance to be able to live their lives in dignity, able to seek work, access to education, healthcare and shelter whilst in the country,”(Malaysiakini, 15/6/2021)

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, where the government advocates mass vaccination of everyone,  it is foolish to just be vaccinating Malaysians, and not other foreigners or stateless persons that also now live within our communities – which, by the waY is also in line with our Federal Constitution that guarantees equality for all persons, meaning citizens and non-citizens in Malaysia. Article 8(1), states ‘(1) All persons are equal before the law…’

Covid-19 Response Failings – when 14.5% of 2,650 Fatalities Brought in Dead(BID)

It was shocking that the Minister of Health, Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, recently revealed that 14.5 per cent of Malaysia’s total 2,650 Covid-19 fatalities involved Brought in Dead (BID) cases as of May 29, 2021(Malay Mail, 31/5/2021). One wonders how many of these were undocumented migrants(including refugees and asylum seekers), who fear arrest if they seek healthcare. One wonders how many more died by reason of Covid-19, and may be buried ‘secretly’ as they are undocumented migrants, refugees or asylum seekers.   

UNHCR and UN must provide for food, board and Covid Vaccinations/Healthcare

In the past, the UNHCR provided food and board for these asylum seekers or refugees, but today this does not happen. Question arises as to how they will live, so naturally many may be forced to work as undocumented migrants. Any country can allow entry and stay of refugees/asylum seekers, but the United Nations must cover this cost of stay including for healthcare and Covid vaccination. The UN’s failures forces many to refugees to work as undocumented workers, which may be affect State’s policy and even diplomatic relationship. Malaysia must also call for the UN to fully bear the cost of food, board and healthcare, as iwas done in the past by the UN.

MADPET reiterates the call for the speedy enactment of a Refugee and Asylum Act in Malaysia, that will finally acknowledge that some of the undocumented migrants are in fact asylum seekers or refugees;

We call for Malaysia to be consistent with the constitutional guarantee, of treating all persons(not just citizens) equally, more so in Malaysia’s response to this Covid pandemic.

Pending the enactment of Refugee and Asylum Act, Malaysia must disclose a clear written policy on refugees and asylum seekers, including also the issuance of identification documents, rights on work, education, healthcare, registration of marriage/birth and deaths and other relevant matters.

MADPET calls on the United Nations to revive the practice to bear the cost of food, board, education and healthcare of refugees and asylum seekers, including the applicants of such status, in Malaysia and other countries. It is a global responsibility, and unfair that the cost be borne by just the receiving State; and

MADPET calls on Malaysia to be caring to all persons in Malaysia, respect the principle of non-refoulement of refugees and asylum seekers and advocate justice and human rights, even during this difficult times brought about by the Covid pandemic.

 

Charles Hector

For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

 

NEWS
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National Task Force panned for 'hypocrisy' against Rohingya refugees

Alyaa Alhadjri

Published
Modified 11 Jun 2021, 9:44 pm
49

The National Task Force in charge of border patrols and other enforcement activities during the current movement control order period has been taken to task for its warning to the Rohingya minority escaping Myanmar's junta regime that their arrival in Malaysia is not welcome.

Migrant rights activists said the stand taken by the NTF today was hypocritical, particularly in light of the government's support for the Palestinians, many of who were forced to escape attacks by Israel's Zionist regime.

The Immigration Department had taken to Twitter this afternoon and shared a poster from the NTF which showed three armed personnel from the police, army and maritime enforcement bodies against a background of refugees sailing in wooden boats on the high seas.

The wordings, in Bahasa Malaysia, read (translation): "Ethnic Rohingya Migrants, Your Arrivals Are Uninvited".

"The masterminds and syndicates involved will be hunted down to crack down on cross-border and other crimes," said the department further on Twitter.

Amnesty-International Malaysia executive director Katrina Jorene Maliamauv described NTF's message as "despicable" and "grotesque".

"It is despicable to say to a community of people who have undergone ethnic cleansing, who have endured unimaginable brutality for generations, that they are not only unwanted in our country but that we will use brute force against them.

"It is also particularly grotesque coming from leaders who will crow to the international community about their concern for Palestinians one week, then in the very next breath, threaten violence against others who are traumatised and displaced," she told Malaysiakini when contacted.

"How does the Malaysian government justify that hypocrisy?" she stressed.

On Twitter, critics reminded the Malaysian government of its gatherings held in solidarity with Rohingya refugees, including a major 2016 rally that united top Umno and PAS leaders led by then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Others who mocked the message also questioned whether Rohingya refugees attempting to enter Malaysia would be able to read it.

North-South Initiative executive director Adrian Pereira said the government has wrongly identified migrants and Rohingya refugees as its enemy, particularly in the current war against Covid-19.

"This is unnecessary propaganda which is creating a negative public perception The real enemies are the traffickers and smugglers. Not refugees and asylum seekers," said Pereira.

He further cited unresolved issues highlighted in at least two major government reports on the management of migrant workers here including those who were undocumented.

"We are not saying stop all enforcement but don’t create false perceptions of the (migrants) issue," he said.

Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol and lacks a legal or administrative framework to regulate the status and rights of refugees.

'Impact on refugees here'

Both Maliamauv and Pereira noted that the warning - purportedly to deter new refugee arrivals - would instead cause more harm to migrants already here further compounding the increased xenophobia and racism seen since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

"They’ve talked about the serious impact on their mental health, about receiving threats to their lives.

"There has been a rise in suicides among migrants and asylum seekers," said Maliamauv.

"Make no mistake, 'strategic communications' and policies like these foster a climate of hatred, violence and xenophobia. They harm lives, they punish people for trying to survive, they justify discrimination.

"We can choose to spend so much money and resources on acts of violence and hatred or we can create a response of care and protection," she said.

Pereira, meanwhile, reiterated that any form of a crackdown against refugees or migrants would ultimately push them further into hiding and impact the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

At around 9pm tonight, it was discovered that the Immigration Department had deleted the tweet with no further explanation.

Malaysiakini has contacted its director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud for comments.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin had, prior to the start of the movement control order earlier this month, announced another major crackdown on migrants here, earning brickbats from various rights groups.

He, however, justified the operations as part of the government's attempts to protect Malaysians and "assist undocumented migrants" to get vaccinated on top of assuring they would be given the option of being deported or legalised under the labour recalibration programme.

Despite intense criticism, Hamzah yesterday said his ministry will continue cracking down on migrants during the ongoing total lockdown. - Malaysiakini, 11/6/2021

 

Suhakam tells govt to protect refugees, recognise UNHCR

Published
4

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has urged the government to protect migrants and refugees instead of employing “strong-arm enforcement” and negative portrayals.

In a statement last night, it expressed concern over recent statements “portraying migrants, undocumented or irregular migrants, refugees and asylum seekers as a threat to the safety and security of the country”.

Suhakam did not specify who had made those statements.

Last week, the National Task Force came under fire for a poster warning Rohingya refugees escaping Myanmar’s junta regime that they were “not welcome” in Malaysia.

The poster featured gun-toting personnel and was shared by the Immigration Department on social media. The post was deleted following outrage and criticism of hypocrisy.

Suhakam urged Putrajaya to be consistent in its stand against xenophobia.

“The Malaysian government has been condemning xenophobia at international fora and should do the same in the country.

“We should work towards typifying the spirit of empathy and humanity that Malaysians are known for.

“The government should commit to strictly observe the international principle of non-refoulement of refugees and asylum seekers and instead undertake to protect and provide the migrant and refugee community with the necessary assistance to be able to live their lives in dignity, able to seek work, access to education, healthcare and shelter whilst in the country,” it said.

Malaysian law does not recognise or differentiate refugees from other migrants.

Suhakam further urged the government to acknowledge the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

“It is also important to recognise the role of UNHCR and the issuance of UNHCR cards which affords refugees and asylum seekers with some protection and ‘legality’ to remain in the country,” it said.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin recently warned the UNHCR against “simply issuing” the agency’s cards to refugees without proper vetting.

He also defended immigration’s move to bar UNHCR from entering immigration detention centres to identify refugees. The ban has been in place since August 2019.

The minister opined that “the majority of Malaysians do not agree with the huge number of refugees who made Malaysia their destination of choice as it might lead to various social ills”.

Raids harm herd immunity

Suhakam also remarked that the government’s “strong-armed enforcement” on migrants could jeopardise its own Covid-19 vaccination drive.

Immigration began cracking down on undocumented migrants during the total lockdown and is set to continue doing so amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

A raid last week saw immigration officers spraying arrested migrants with disinfectant, sparking public outrage over the inhumane and unscientific practice.

“Suhakam reminds the government of its commitment to Article 56 of the Asean Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, to closely cooperate to resolve the cases of migrant workers who, frequently become undocumented due to no fault of their own.

“Instilling fear through threats of arrests and detention of undocumented foreigners is counter-productive, in light of ongoing efforts to overcome the pandemic and the urgency to achieve herd immunity,” said the commission.

Suhakam’s concerns echo that of the All Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia for the Reform of Prisons and All Places of Detention, opposition MPs and human rights groups. - Malaysiakini, 15/6/2021

Replying to
Refugees are among the most vulnerable people in this world that have fled their homes and country to avoid a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, social affiliations or political opinion. -
In the time of Covid, while we grapple with new realities, we must safeguard our humanity. We cannot let people die at sea or punish them for leaving their homes to seek refuge on our soils. - Twitter

Malaysia's Anwar taking refuge at Turkish embassy

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s de facto opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, took refuge at the Turkish embassy on Sunday for security reasons, his party said, hours after an allegation that he had sodomised an aide, a claim which he denied.

“He is there for protection but he is not seeking political asylum,” Tian Chua, the spokesman for Anwar’s political party, said by telephone. “We just want to make sure that he is secure.” Turkish diplomats were not immediately available for comment.  - Reuters, 29/6/2008

 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

14.5 per cent of Malaysia’s total 2,650 Covid-19 fatalities involved Brought in Dead(BID) cases - Government failings?

One can understand a few Covid-19 victims brought in dead(BID) - but 14.5% of 2,560 is too many - more than 370???

Explanation is certainly required by the Health Minister - how can this happen in modern Malaysia, which has a pretty good public healthcare system. The sick will go to clinics/hospitals for treatment - and it is natural that death happens in hospitals... so why were this 370 plus brought in dead...

Were the Undocumented migrants( too afraid to go to clinics/hospitals for fear of being arrested, detained and deported?) ...or were they locals. Were they from some 'ulu area' -- because after all every kampung/taman/kampung baru have government politically appointed Ketua Kampungs and JKKK..

Were they persons who died in police custody? Who are these people who were BROUGHT IN DEAD

WHY DID THE SICK NOT GO TO HOSPITAL? THIS IS A MYSTERY....

EXPLANATION NEEDED

Health minister: A third of brought-in-dead cases linked to Covid-19 in May

Health workers in personal protective equipment prepare to bury the body of a Covid-19 victim at the Muslim cemetery in Kampung Changkat Gombak, Kuala Lumpur May 30, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Health workers in personal protective equipment prepare to bury the body of a Covid-19 victim at the Muslim cemetery in Kampung Changkat Gombak, Kuala Lumpur May 30, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — Brought-in-dead (BID) cases due to Covid-19 complications are rising at an exponential rate, and comprised 106 out of 386 such cases this month alone, said Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

According to Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, the health minister attributed the spike to the deceased’s refusal to seek hospital treatment despite testing positive for the highly infectious coronavirus.

He cited the case of an 80-year-old man with a history of prostate cancer who died at home after testing positive for Covid-19 24 hours before his death.

He had refused to go to hospital despite showing signs of being asymptomatic for a week.

“The case was referred to the hospital but (he) refused to go to hospital and went home instead. The patient was RT-PCR tested at an examination centre the next day, where he was referred to a hospital once again, but (he) returned home.

“A family member found the patient unconscious at 7pm on May 22. He was pronounced dead at 7.20pm on the same day by a health officer,” he told the Malay daily.

In total, Dr Adham added that individuals with a pre-existing medical condition or comorbidity topped the BID list of Covid-19 dead since the start of the pandemic, at 258 cases or 67 per cent.

This was followed by those with no known medical condition, at 96 cases (25 per cent), and cases with no information, at 32 cases (8 per cent).

According to the report, the minister stated that 14.5 per cent of Malaysia’s total 2,650 Covid-19 fatalities involved BID cases as of May 29.

“This month, 19 BID cases involved patients in home quarantine, while the remaining cases tested positive for Covid-19 after the body arrived at the hospital,” he added.

Two days ago, Malaysia reported the highest daily number of Covid-19 fatalities since the pandemic outbreak began in Malaysia, with 98 deaths. - Malay Mail, 31/5/2021

Monday, June 14, 2021

Does possession of more than 50gm of Methamphetamine justify death? Madpet appalled by death sentence

 See Full Media Statement at

Drug Trafficking Still ‘Mandatory’ Death Penalty, Unjust Conditions For Alternative Sentence Violates Rights Of Fair Trial And Justice(MADPET)

- Drug Trafficking still attracting death penalty - despite amendment providing alternative sentence

- Alternative sentence CONDITIONS a violation of right to fair trial(including rights to appeal), undermine judge's sentencing discretion

Madpet appalled by death sentence

13 Jun 2021 / 11:25 H
 
PETALING JAYA: Does possession of more than 50gm of Methamphetamine justify death? Madpet (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) posed this question in speaking out against the death sentence passed on an individual in April.

Madpet is appalled that yet another person is sentenced to death for drug trafficking despite the perception that Malaysia has amended the law on drug trafficking abolishing death penalty especially for minor offenders or drug mules, other than the kingpins of drug trafficking, its spokseman Charles Hector said today.

In April 2021, Shahfary Sabri, a widower was sentenced to death by the High Court here after he was found guilty of trafficking 149.5 grams of methamphetamine three years ago.

“In Malaysia, if one is found in possession of 50gm or more in weight of Methamphetamine, he will be presumed under section 37 DDA to be a drug trafficker, under the contrary is proved. If less, he would not be presumed to be a drug trafficker,” Hector said in a statement.

“Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017, which provided the new possibility of a sentence other than death for drug trafficking was gazetted in December 2017, and came into force on March 15, 2018. There is no justification for the three months delay in coming into force, as all those who committed the offence before that date will still be subject to the mandatory death penalty.”

Shafary was charged with trafficking the drugs in a hotel room here on Oct 19, 2018, which means that now, there was the possibility of him not being sentenced to death.

“Sadly, media reports did not mention whether the alternative sentence to death was even considered by the courts,” Hector said.

Hundreds in death row despite changed position for minor drug traffickers, he pointed out.

“Sadly, the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, as amended today, still does not deal with the hundreds still languishing on death row. There must be an Act of Parliament that will commute the death sentences to imprisonment, or even provide for a re-sentencing of those on death row.

“The amended law will also not apply for those who allegedly committed the offence before March 15, 2018, as all of them will still be subject to mandatory death penalty.” - The Sun Daily, 13/6/2021


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OPINIONS

COMMENT | 'Mandatory' death penalty still being meted out for drug offences

Charles Hector

13 Jun 2021, 8:52 am

COMMENT | The Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) is appalled that yet another person has been sentenced to death for drug trafficking despite the perception that Malaysia has amended the law on drug trafficking by abolishing the death penalty especially for minor offenders or ‘drug mules’, other than the kingpins of drug trafficking.

In April, Shahfary Sabri, a widower was sentenced to death by the High Court after he was found guilty of trafficking 149.5g of methamphetamine three years ago.

Does mere possession of over 50g of methamphetamine justify death?

In Malaysia, if one is found in possession of 50g or more in weight of methamphetamine, he will be presumed under Section 37 of the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) to be a drug trafficker, until the contrary is proved. If less, he would not be presumed to be a drug trafficker.

The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017, which provided the new possibility of a sentence other than death for drug trafficking was gazetted in December 2017, and came into force on March 15, 2018. There was no justification for the three-month delay in having it come into force, as all those who committed the offence before that date will still be subjected to the mandatory death penalty.

In this case, Shafary was charged with trafficking the drugs in a hotel room on October 19, 2018, which means that now, there was the possibility of him not being sentenced to death. Sadly, media reports did not mention whether an alternative sentence to death was even considered. 

To satisfy conditions for an alternative sentence means abandonment of right to a fair trial.

Section 39B(2A) of the amended DDA, now states that "the court in imposing the sentence of imprisonment for life and whipping of not less than 15 strokes, may have regard only to the following circumstances: (a) there was no evidence of buying and selling of a dangerous drug at the time when the person convicted was arrested; (b) there was no involvement of agent provocateur; or (c) the involvement of the person convicted is restricted to transporting, carrying, sending or delivering a dangerous drug; and (d) that the person convicted has assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia."

The amended law is unjust as it undermines the right to a fair trial, as one of the rights of any accused person is the right to remain silent – being the right not to take the stand and deliver evidence themselves, which, if he or she does so, that accused shall be subject to cross examination by the prosecution. 

In most criminal trials, the best advice is for the accused not to personally take the stand as a witness, and to call other defence witnesses. Remember that even in PKR president Anwar Ibrahim's trial, he elected not to take the stand as a witness – but elected to just make a statement, whereby in such a situation, there will be no cross-examination by the prosecution. However, in this case, Shahfary took the stand as the only defence witness.

It also undermines the right to a fair trial, because after conviction and sentencing at the court of first instance, one has the right to appeal – two rights of appeal. If the court of first instance is the High Court, which is the case when one is charged with a capital offence (death penalty), the right to appeal lies to the Court of Appeal, and thereafter to the Federal Court. 

It will be unjust for the convicted, to prejudice this rights of appeal simply to ‘admit’ and assist enforcement agencies to save himself from the death penalty, and hope that he will be sentenced to imprisonment.

At the end of the day, the amendments may have brought about the possibility of an alternative sentence to the death sentence, being imprisonment for life with whipping of not less than fifteen strokes. 

Madpet advocates different sentences depending on the amount of drugs involved, or even what exactly was done. Possession only may attract a lighter sentence, compared to selling, distributing or smuggling into Malaysia the drugs.

Given the conditions imposed, the mandatory death sentence may be abolished, but practically it can be said that we still have the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking.

Judges' sentencing powers must not be inhibited by Parliament

Section 39B(2A) is also wrong, because it prevents judges from considering any or all mitigation and aggravation factors before deciding on a just sentence for each case.

Worse is the apparently mandatory requirement of "the person convicted has assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia". Note an actually innocent person certainly cannot satisfy this condition.

Abolish presumptions, restore onus on DPP to prove all elements of crime

Section 37 presumptions remain an affront to justice and a fair trial, especially for death penalty offences.

In normal criminal cases, it is the duty of the prosecution to prove every element of the crime.

With these presumptions in the DDA, the finding of a person with drugs in their possession presumes that he/she is a drug trafficker or an offender, and the accused person has the duty to prove that the drugs were not his/hers, and he did not commit the offence which is a very onerous duty, for which the lay person, especially the poor, does not have the needed skills, capacity or resources.

For death penalty cases especially, the burden of proof of all elements of the crime must always rest with the prosecution.

Note that besides the weightage presumptions, there are many other presumptions like ‘"if any dangerous drug is found to be concealed in any premises, it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that the said drug is so concealed with the knowledge of the occupier of the premises." How exactly can you prove that someone else may have hidden the drugs, possibly without your knowledge, in your room, house or car?

Lawyers generally may also lack the skills and capacity of conducting investigations needed to secure evidence and additional witnesses to rebut presumptions. Many criminal practitioners also do not even visit the site the alleged offences is said to have been committed. 

The requirement for pre-trial disclosure by the prosecution is also much lacking, in terms of the needed material that need to be provided to the accused, and the time that it has to be provided.

Hundreds on death row despite changed position for minor drug traffickers

Sadly, the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, as amended today, still does not deal with the hundreds still languishing on death row. There must be an act of Parliament that will commute the death sentences to imprisonment, or even provide for a re-sentencing of those on death row.

The amended law will also not apply for those who allegedly committed the offence before March 15, 2018, as all of them will still be subjected to the mandatory death penalty.

In August 2020, de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan said that, as of Aug 11 that year, a total of 918 prisoners were sentenced to death under Section 39B of which 472 are Malaysians and 446 are non-citizens. 

Make special review committee's report public

The special committee to review alternative sentences to the mandatory death penalty, made up of former Federal Court judges, former Attorney-General’s Chambers officers, former Prisons Department senior officers, the Bar Council, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, academics, criminologists and civil society organisations submitted their report to the government on July 17, 2020 but sadly to date the report is still not made available to the public.

Failure in amending law to abolish death penalty

The previous BN government and the Pakatan Harapan Plus government were already on the way towards the abolition of the death penalty, starting with the mandatory death penalty. The Perikatan Nasional (PN)-BN Plus government is also of like mind.

With reference to the report of the special committee on alternative sentences, the de facto law minister also said that: “The findings are expected to answer the debate on whether the government will propose amending the punishment for drug trafficking to a minimum jail sentence so that punishments will be given based on the facts of each case.”

Madpet hopes that the government will not confine itself to drug trafficking, but will do the needed for all death penalty offences.

Despite Malaysia’s representation for the abolition of the death penalty, especially the mandatory death penalty, little has been done to amend necessary laws. The death penalty still even exists for offences where there are no victims who suffered bodily harm or death during the commission of the offence.

The possibility of miscarriage of justice, where an innocent person may be wrongly sentenced to death or even hanged is very real – noting that human beings are not infallible. Mistakes can happen on the part of the police, enforcement officers, prosecutors, lawyers and even judges. Once dead, nothing can be done to correct such mistakes justly.

Madpet calls for the following:

  1. The removal of the restriction in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 on factors that can be considered by judges before the imposition of a just sentence;
  2. The abolition of legal presumption in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, and place on the prosecutors the burden of proving all elements of the crime, as is the norm in most criminal cases;
  3. Enactment of law that will enable the commutation of death sentence, or the provision of the ability for courts to review death sentence of drug traffickers as even the amended law, does not address offences committed before March 15, 2018 or the many hundreds that are still languishing on death row;
  4. The government to immediately disclose the findings and report of the Special Committee to Review Alternative Sentences to the Mandatory Death Penalty for we also ought to be given the right to know or even make further inputs;
  5. For a review of the offence of drug trafficking, and the introduction of different alternative, more just sentences depending on the facts of each case, emphasising also on the principle of rehabilitation and second chances;
  6. For the abolition of the death penalty, and the imposition of a moratorium on executions pending abolitions; and
  7. For Malaysia to respect the right to a fair trial, and remove provisions in law that unjustly compels one to abandon one’s fair trial rights simply to avoid the death penalty.  

CHARLES HECTOR represents Malaysians Against Death Penalty & Torture (Madpet). - Malaysiakini, 13/6/2021

Drug Trafficking Still ‘Mandatory’ Death Penalty, Unjust Conditions For Alternative Sentence Violates Rights Of Fair Trial And Justice(MADPET)

 

Media Statement – 13/6/2021

Drug Trafficking Still ‘Mandatory’ Death Penalty, Unjust Conditions For Alternative Sentence Violates Rights Of Fair Trial And Justice

BN, PH Plus and Perikatan Nasional-BN Plus for abolition

MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is appalled that yet another person is sentenced to death for drug trafficking despite the perception that Malaysia has amended the law on drug trafficking abolishing death penalty especially for minor offenders or ‘drug mules’, other than the kingpins of drug trafficking.

In April 2021, Shahfary Sabri, a widower was sentenced to death by the High Court here after he was found guilty of trafficking 149.5 grams of methamphetamine three years ago. (Malay Mail 22/4/2021, also Utusan Malaysia).

Does mere passion of more than 50 grams of Methamphetamine justify death?

In Malaysia, if one is found in possession of 50 grammes or more in weight of Methamphetamine, he will be presumed under section 37 DDA to be a drug trafficker, under the contrary is proved. If less, he would not be presumed to be a drug trafficker.

Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017, which provided the new possibility of a sentence other than death for drug trafficking was gazetted in December 2017, and came into force on 15/3/2018. There is no justification for the 3 months delay in coming into force, as all those who committed the offence before that date will still be subject to the MANDATORY death penalty.

In this case, Shafary was charged with trafficking the drugs in a hotel room here on October 19, 2018, which means that now, there was the possibility of him not being sentenced to death. Sadly, media reports did not mention whether the alternative sentence to death was even considered by the Courts.

To satisfy conditions for alternative sentence means abandonment of right to fair trial

Section 39B(2A) of the amended DDA, now states that ‘…the Court in imposing the sentence of imprisonment for life and whipping of not less than fifteen strokes, may have regard only to the following circumstances:  (a) there was no evidence of buying and selling of a dangerous drug at the time when the person convicted was arrested; (b) there was no involvement of agent provocateur; or (c) the involvement of the person convicted is restricted to transporting, carrying, sending or delivering a dangerous drug; and (d) that the person convicted has assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia.

The amended law is unjust as it undermines the right to a fair trial, as one of the rights of any accused person is the right to remain silent – being the right not to take the stand and deliver evidence themselves, which, if he or she does so, that accused shall be subject to cross examination by the prosecution. In most criminal trials, the best advice is for the accused not to personally take the stand as a witness, and to call other defence witnesses. Remember that even in the infamous Anwar Ibrahim trial, he elected not to take the stand as a witness – but elected to just make a statement, whereby in such a situation, there will be no cross-examination by the prosecution. However, in this case, Shahfary Sabri took the stand as the only defence witness.

It also undermines the Right to a Fair Trial, because after conviction and sentencing at the Court of first instance, one has the right to appeal – 2 rights of Appeal. If the Court of 1st Instance is the High Court, which is the case when one is charged with a capital offence (death penalty), the right to appeal lies to the Court of Appeal, and thereafter to the Federal Court. It will be unjust for the convicted, to prejudice this rights of appeal simply to ‘admit’ and assist enforcement agencies simply to save himself from death penalty, and hope that he will be sentenced to imprisonment.

At the end of the day, the amendments may have brought about the possibility of an alternative to death sentence, being imprisonment for life with whipping of not less than fifteen strokes. MADPET advocates different sentences depending on the amount of drugs involved, or even what exactly was done. Possession only may attract a lighter sentence, compared to selling or distributing or smuggling into Malaysia the drugs.

Given the conditions imposed, the mandatory death sentence may be abolished, but practically it can be said that we still have the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking.

Judges Sentencing powers must not be inhibited by Parliament

Section 39B(2A) is also wrong, because it prevents judges from considering any or all mitigation and aggravation factors before deciding on a just sentence for each case.

Worse, is that apparently mandatory requirement that ‘…the person convicted has assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia…’. Note an actually innocent person certainly cannot satisfy this condition.

Abolish presumptions, restore onus on Prosecution to prove all elements of crime

The section 37 presumptions is remains an affront to justice and a fair trial, especially for death penalty offences.

In normal criminal cases, it is the duty of the prosecution to prove every element of the crime.

With these presumptions in the DDA, the finding of a person with drugs in their possession presumes that he/she is a drug trafficker or an offender, and the accused person has the duty to prove that the drugs were not his/hers, and he did not commit the offence which is a very onerous duty, for which the lay person, especially the poor, does have the needed skills, capacity or resources.

For death penalty cases especially, the burden of proof of all elements of the crime must always rest with the prosecution.

Note that besides the weightage presumptions, there are many other presumptions like ‘if any dangerous drug is found to be concealed in any premises, it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that the said drug is so concealed with the knowledge of the occupier of the premises..’[S.37(g)]. How exactly can you prove that someone else may have hidden the drugs, possibly without your knowledge, in your room, house or car?

Lawyers generally may also lack the skills and capacity of conducting investigations needed to secure needed evidence and additional witnesses to rebut presumptions. Many criminal practitioners also do not even visit the site the alleged offences is said to have been committed. The requirement for pre-trial disclosure by the prosecution is also much lacking, in terms of the needed material that need to be provided to the accused, and the time that it has to be provided.

Hundreds in death row despite changed position for minor drug traffickers.

Sadly, the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, as amended today, still does not deal with the hundreds still languishing on death row. There must be an Act of Parliament that will commute the death sentences to imprisonment, or even provide for a re-sentencing of those on death row.

The amended law will also not apply for those who allegedly committed the offence before 15/3/2018, as all of them will still be subject to mandatory death penalty.

In August 2020, the de facto Law Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said that, as of Aug 11, a total 918 prisoners have been sentenced to death under Section 39B of which 472 are Malaysians and 446 are non-citizens. (Malaysian Reserve, 14/8/2020)

Report of the Special Committee To Review Alternative Sentences To The Mandatory Death Penalty

The special committee to review alternative sentences to the mandatory death penalty, made up of former Federal Court judges, former Attorney General’s Chambers officers, former Prisons Department senior officers, the Bar Council, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, academics, criminologists and civil society organisations submitted their report to the government on July 17, 2020 but sadly to date the report is still not made available to the public.

Failure in amending law to abolish death penalty

The previous Barisan Nasional government and the Pakatan Harapan Plus government were already on the way towards the abolition of the death penalty, starting with the mandatory death penalty. The Perikatan Nasional-BN Plus government is also of like mind.

With reference to the report of special committee on alternative sentences, the de facto law Minister also said that  “The findings are expected to answer the debate on whether the government will propose amending the punishment for drug trafficking to a minimum jail sentence so that punishments will be given based on the facts of each case,”. MADPET hopes that the government will not confine itself to drug trafficking, but will do the needed for all death penalty offences.

Despite Malaysia’s representation for the abolition of the death penalty, especially the mandatory death penalty, little has been done to amend necessary laws. Death penalty still even exists for offences where there are no victims who suffered bodily harm or death during the commission of the offence.

The possibility of miscarriage of justice, where an innocent person may be wrongly sentenced to death or even hanged is very real – noting that human beings are not infallible. Mistakes can happen on the part of the police, enforcement officers, prosecutors, lawyers and even judges. Once dead, nothing can be done to correct such mistakes justly.

MADPET calls for the removal of current restriction in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 on factors that can be considered by judges before the imposition of a just sentence;

MADPET calls for the abolition of legal presumption in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, and place on the prosecutors the burden of proving all elements of the crime, as is the norm in most criminal cases;   

MADPET calls for enactment of law that will enable the commutation of death sentence, or the provision of the ability for courts to review death sentence of drug traffickers as even the amended law, does not address offences committed before 15/3/2018 or the many hundreds that are still languishing on death row;

MADPET calls on the government to immediately disclose the findings and report of the Special Committee To Review Alternative Sentences To The Mandatory Death Penalty for we also ought to be given the right to know or even make further inputs;

MADPET also calls for a review of the offence of drug trafficking, and the introduction of different alternative more just sentences depending on the facts of each case, emphasizing also on the principle of rehabilitation and second chances;

MADPET reiterates its call for the abolition of the death penalty, and the imposition of a moratorium on executions pending abolitions; and

MADPET calls on Malaysia to respect the Right To Fair Trial, and remove provisions in law that unjustly compels one to abandon one’s fair trial rights simply to avoid the death penalty.  

 

Charles Hector

For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

 

 

 

Kuala Lumpur High Court sentences widower to death for drug trafficking

Judicial Commissioner Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid handed down the sentence to Shahfary Sabri, 47, after finding that the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubts against the prosecution case.— Reuters pic
Judicial Commissioner Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid handed down the sentence to Shahfary Sabri, 47, after finding that the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubts against the prosecution case.— Reuters pic



KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — A widower was sent to the gallows by the High Court here today after he was found guilty of trafficking 149.5 grams of methamphetamine three years ago.

Judicial Commissioner Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid handed down the sentence to Shahfary Sabri, 47, after finding that the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubts against the prosecution case.

The father of six was charged with trafficking the drugs in a hotel room here on October 19, 2018, under Section 38B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and punishable under Section 39B(2) of the same law, which provides the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

The prosecution called a total of five witnesses while the accused was the sole defence witness who testified at the trial which began on September 3, 2020.

Deputy public prosecutor Annur Atiqah Abd Hadi prosecuted, while Shahfary was represented by lawyer Haris Salleh Hamzah. — Bernama - Malay Mail, 22/4/2021

Dadah berbalut plastik ‘Thank You’, ejen hotel digantung

KUALA LUMPUR: Seorang bapa tunggal kepada enam orang anak dijatuhi hukuman gantung selepas didapati bersalah oleh Mahkamah Tinggi di sini hari ini terhadap tuduhan mengedar dadah Methamphetamine seberat 149.5 gram di sebuah hotel, tiga tahun lalu.

Pesuruhjaya Kehakiman Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid mensabitkan Shahfary Sabri, 47, terhadap tuduhan itu selepas berpuas hati tiada keraguan munasabah ditimbulkan oleh pihak pembelaan dalam kes itu.

Ejen bebas yang bertugas mendapatkan pelanggan hotel itu didakwa mengedar dadah kira-kira pukul 11 malam, 19 Oktober 2018 di hadapan bilik sebuah hotel di sini.

Dia didakwa mengikut Seksyen 39B(1)(a) Akta Dadah Berbahaya yang boleh dihukum di bawah Seksyen 39B(2) akta sama yang memperuntukkan hukuman mati mandatori.

Pendakwaan dikendalikan oleh Timbalan Pendakwa Raya Annur Atiqah Abd. Hadi manakala tertuduh diwakili oleh peguam Haris Salleh Hamzah.

Perbicaraan terhadapnya bermula pada 3 September tahun lalu dengan lima saksi pendakwaan memberi keterangan manakala tertuduh adalah saksi tunggal pihak pembelaan.

Ketika perbicaraan berlangsung, mahkamah diberitahu bahawa tertuduh ditahan oleh pihak polis di lobi hotel berkenaan sebelum dibawa naik ke salah sebuah bilik hotel itu untuk pemeriksaan lanjut.

Siasatan polis menemukan dadah berbalut plastik hitam bertulis perkataan ‘Thank You’ dalam seluar di celah pinggangnya. – UTUSAN ONLINE, 22/4/2021

Cabinet to mull scrapping death penalty for drug offences

graphic by MZUKRI

THE Cabinet will review options to abolish capital punishment for drug trafficking offences, de facto Law Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said.

Following the final report by the special committee to review alternative sentences to the mandatory death penalty, which was submitted to the government on July 17, the minister said discussions will be held before a decision is made on the matter.

“The final report contains recommendations on alternative punishments for 11 offences that carry the mandatory death sentence, offences under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (Act 234), and 21 offences that carry the discretionary death sentence,” he told the August house yesterday.

He was responding to Ramkarpal Singh (Pakatan Harapan [PH]-Bukit Gelugor) who asked the prime minister whether the government would abolish the death sentence for drug trafficking.

Takiyuddin added that the committee had also made recommendations for long-term improvements to the country’s justice system.

“The report is expected to be presented at a Cabinet meeting for consideration and approval.

“The findings are expected to answer the debate on whether the government will propose amending the punishment for drug trafficking to a minimum jail sentence so that punishments will be given based on the facts of each case,” he said.

According to the law minister, as of Aug 11, a total 918 prisoners have been sentenced to death under Section 39B of which 472 are Malaysians and 446 are non-citizens.

Under section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act, those in possession of 15g or more heroin and morphine; 1,000g or more opium (raw or prepared); 200g or more cannabis; and 40g or more cocaine will receive the mandatory death sentence.

Last year, a special committee was established to carry out the Compensation Penalty Study on Mandatory Death Penalty within four months from Sept 20, 2019, to Jan 31, 2020.

“The special committee submitted the study on July 17 instead of January as they needed more time.

“Regardless, it is the government’s intention for the changes to be implemented as soon as possible. Malaysia continues to engage in smart partnerships with countries that use their laws to curb drug abuse in addition to other measures used to address drug trafficking,” Takiyuddin said.

He emphasised that the government also takes international conventions into consideration.

“My predecessor has initiated this matter, for the national interest. We have conducted the study and I will evaluate as best as possible which stems from the previous government’s intent to make sure that justice is served.

“I give my assurance that we will fully consider the recommendations that have been set out by the committee,” he added.

The special committee members comprise former Federal Court judges, former Attorney General’s Chambers officers, former Prisons Department senior officers, the Bar Council, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, academics, criminologists and civil society organisations. - The Malaysian Reserve, 14/8/2020