KUALA LUMPUR — February 12, 2019: Gerakan Pembela Ummah, a coalition of Malay non-governmental organisations, wants to enlist the goodwill of the king to prevent the government from abolishing the death penalty.
This was unanimously decided by members today because they believe the country still needs capital punishment to deter crime.
The plan to abolish the death penalty was announced last October by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong, describing it as Malaysia’s baby-step towards becoming a humanitarian state while also claiming that the country will never progress if the punishment remains.
Ummah chairman Aminuddin Yahaya said the group will send a memorandum to the king when the next parliament convenes on March 11, which coincides with the reading of the bill to abolish the death penalty.
If this fails, Ummah will organise another mammoth rally the way it did against the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination last December.
“We hope that Malaysians, regardless of political inclination and race will support us to stop this stupid proposal by some stupid ministers,” he said.
Lawyer Christina Teng, who was at the Ummah press conference today, rebutted the favourable narrative pushed by those who favour the abolishment, saying that doing so would cause severe social and economic ramifications.
“The government should put the interest of 33 million Malaysians first, instead of the 1,281 death row inmates. Removing the death penalty undermines enforcement work and cheapens innocent civilian lives,” she said.
Teng insisted that crime rates will go up if Malaysia abolishes the death penalty, as evident in the Philippines, which abolished capital punishment in 2006 but is now seeking to reinstate it following a spike in drug-related crimes.
“In Asia, death penalty deters crimes. Look at China and Singapore and compare them with the Philippines and Cambodia, which are the only Asian countries without the death penalty. Why is Malaysia going towards the other direction?” she asked.
Teng also pointed that 30 of the 50 states in the United States continue to impose the death penalty..
In Malaysia, 32 offences across eight legislations carry the death penalty, with it being mandatory in some cases.
As for the argument that there could be miscarriage of justice, another lawyer Abdul Rahim Sinwan argued that the judicial process involving capital punishment is not as straightforward as some depicted it to be as the convicted person has ample avenues for legal recourse.