PUTRAJAYA: PUTRAJAYA doubts it has the support of the opposition to abolish the mandatory death sentence and is certain of a repeat of the failed first attempt to scrap the Anti-Fake News Act.
Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad said he could see the “roadblock” ahead in Dewan Negara if the act was passed in the Lower House, as the number of opposition members in the Senate exceeded the number of those from Pakatan Harapan.
“Most of the senators are not from the ruling party,” he said yesterday after visiting Sri Pentas, home to Media Prima Bhd’s television networks here.
There are about 1,200 convicts who could be spared the noose if the act is abolished.
It could not be established how many would have otherwise be affected if the moratorium on capital punishment had not been imposed.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Azis Jamman said the moratorium on the death sentence followed the government’s decision to amend laws involving capital punishment in the next Parliament sitting on Oct 15.
Azis said figures, as at Oct 1, showed that there were 59,245 prisoners nationwide, with 45,388 comprising locals and the rest foreigners.
It was reported on Wednesday that the paperwork to abolish the penalty, which was in the final stages, had received the go ahead from the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong had also said until the abolishment of the death penalty takes place, the moratorium on its execution would remain intact.
Under Article 68(2) of the Federal Constitution, Dewan Negara senators can merely delay the passing of the amendment when it is proposed and not block it entirely.
It just needs to go through the entire process of being tabled, debated and passed by the Lower House and be brought again to the Senate after a year from the date of the first passing.
If the Senate still refuses to pass it, only then can Dewan Rakyat bypass the senators by getting the Dewan Rakyat Speaker to present it to the Agong for his consent to make it into law.
In Malaysia, the death penalty carried out by hanging is mandatory for crimes such as murder, drug trafficking and possession of firearms.
Responding to Khalid’s pessimism in getting the opposition heavy Dewan Negara’s nod for the capital punishment to be scrapped, Barisan Nasional’s Senator Khairul Azwan Harun said it did not have to be that way if the government argued its case well.
Azwan, who was instrumental in getting the Senate to reject the abolishment of the Anti-Fake News Act, said BN would support it if the “facts and explanation given on the matter” leaned heavily towards the plan to end the hanging of convicts.
“The decision shouldn’t be the result of some kind of international moral policing.
“It would be good to hear a full explanation and the government’s plan before agreeing, or otherwise. If it is fit for purpose, then yes, I'm all for it.”
Meanwhile, the result of a survey carried out by the New Straits Times Press returned with more than 80 per cent of respondents opposing the government’s move to axe the death penalty.
The majority of the 22,000 Netizens polled were generally worried that doing away with a deterrent sentence like death by hanging would spell disaster for the country.
Student Nur Disyah Aminuddin said abolishing the death sentence would encourage those with no regard for the law to not think twice about committing a felony.
“Without the death sentence, criminals will no longer be afraid and (this can) lead to a crime wave,” she said.
David Lee said the death penalty should remain in the system and must only be applied following a thorough analysis, on a case-by-case basis.
“There are many cases of murderers and rapists who deserve the punishment.
“The death penalty will also be justice served to the victims’ families,” he said.
Respondent Nik Azman said instead of doing away with the death sentence, the government should instead focus on combating corruption by increasing penalties for graft cases.
The minority who supported the proposal included student Joon Hoe Tan, who said it was timely for the country to follow many others which had done away with the death penalty.
“The death sentence does not reduce criminal cases. Life imprisonment is an opportunity for offenders to repent,” he said.
Anne Axry and Faizatul Hanim Afandi said there should be alternative ways to penalise hardcore criminals.
They added that punishing an offender with death was akin to “infringing on the domain of God”. -- Additional reporting by Nur Lela Zulkipli and Esther Landau