The announcement by de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Viu Keong that the death penalty will be abolished is certainly most welcomed, particularly since the death penalty has never been proven to be an effective deterrent.
When debating the bill in Parliament which allowed a court to consider a sentence other than death in capital punishment cases in certain instances during the Barisan Nasional administration, I proposed that provision be introduced in the said new legislation to allow a court to review each death row case with a view to imposing an appropriate sentence on the offender on a case by case basis.
It is necessary for the court to be given such a discretion as certain cases are more deserving of a harsher penalty compared to others. For instance, a person convicted to death for trafficking in a small amount of dangerous drugs ought not be given a lengthy prison sentence compared to a person convicted of murder.
As such, it is hoped all laws which carry the mandatory death penalty be amended not only to abolish the same but also to include provision therein which gives the court the power to review the death sentence on those who are on death row on a case by case basis.
It is also to be noted that with the abolishment of the death penalty, the Australian government ought to extradite the murderer of Altantuya Shaariibuu, Sirul Azhar Umar to Malaysia as there is no reason for him to be detained there any longer since he would no longer face the death penalty upon his return after the death penalty is abolished.
The government must make a formal request to Australia for the return of Sirul as soon as possible after Parliament abolishes the death penalty so that Sirul serves his sentence here.
Sirul’s sentence also ought to be reviewed and the harshest penalty ought to be imposed on him given the henious nature of his crime.