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Hasty decision

  • The government should have studied the issue more thoroughly before making a decision whether or not to abolish death penalty.

Sin Chew Daily

There are two major things to watch when the parliamentary sitting resumes on Monday.

First of all, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, winner of the Port Dickson parliamentary by-election, will make a triumphant comeback to the Parliament.

Another focus will be tabling the abolition of mandatory death penalty, which actually draws the attention of majority of Malaysians.

News of the abolition of death penalty has come a little too sudden and shocking to many, giving the public an impression that the views of a handful of people have superseded the views of majority of Malaysians.

Death penalty has been in practice since time immemorial and for thousands of years has been used to punish people committing capital crimes. However, as the human race becomes more and more civilized, laws have come into being and there have been contentions and arguments over the topics of "human rights" and "humanitarianism", making death penalty one of the most controversial issues.

Such controversies are universal the whole world over, with the proponents and opponents holding very polarized views.

Because of this, many countries are handling this issue very cautiously, with governments opting to keep the existing practices while initiating discussions on the issue and waiting for the right time to come up with a final decision.

Opponents of the abolition of death penalty are of the opinion that this is an issue closely related to the lives of ordinary citizens and as such, public views should be consulted, for example by holding a referendum which is seen as a more civilized and persuasive approach.

The feelings of the victims' families more so must be taken into account, as the lives of heinous perpetrators bound for the gallows are now suddenly spared.

In Malaysia, capital punishment is handed down to three serious crimes, namely narcotics, firearms and manslaughter. Even though there are no scientific evidences to support the claim that death penalty can effectively reduce the crime rate, it remains the most effective deterrent factor to remove the evil forces and reassure the public.

Nevertheless, there have been calls by the increasingly influential human rights groups in the country urging the government to abolish death penalty on the pretext that the State should not abuse the public power to terminate the lives of ordinary citizens.

What needs to be exterminated is crime, not human lives. The deterrent effect of death penalty is just a myth.

Death penalty will not protect or solve the problems of the victims. Moreover, the judges are not gods, and there is always a remote probability of miscarriage of justice.

In Malaysia, many of the condemned drug traffickers are believed to be "drug mules" exploited and cajoled by much more powerful syndicates. The death sentences passed down to them are too harsh and reckless, and they should be given an opportunity to repent through a jail sentence instead.

Organizations against the abolition of death penalty are of the opinion that the condemned convicts deserve a second chance and should be allowed to return and contribute to the society after serving their jail sentences in the future.

Indeed there are two sets of highly polarized arguments and queries on the issue of abolishing death penalty. The government should have studied this issue more thoroughly before making a decision whether or not to abolish death penalty.



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