Lawyers For Liberty has slammed MCA Youth leader Heng Zhi Li for his claims that party president Wee Ka Siong should be lauded for the cabinet’s decision not to fully abolish the death penalty.
The NGO’s director Zaid Malek describes MCA’s continued support for the brutality of judicial executions as “shameful” and backwards.
“It is worse when this comes just over a month after the sickening execution of mentally disabled Malaysian Nagaenthran Dharmalingam by the authoritarian regime in Singapore.
“The government’s failure to go further and totally abolish the death penalty will only make it harder to save the lives of other Malaysians facing execution abroad,” he said in a statement today.
This included Malaysian Pausi Jefridin who has an IQ of 67 and is facing execution in Singapore’s notorious Changi prison.
“By totally abolishing the death penalty, Malaysia would have had the moral ascendancy and political leverage to speak up on behalf of these desperate Malaysians. Or does the MCA not care about these victimised Malaysians and their suffering families here?
“The core issue that needs to be addressed, which the MCA fails to do, is whether the death penalty achieves its objective of being a deterrence to the commission of serious crimes,” he added.
According to Zaid, none of the quantitative studies done throughout the world shows that capital punishment has resulted in a reduction of capital punishment offences.
“Nothing exemplifies this more than capital punishment for drug-related offences, where low-level drug mules are repeatedly convicted and hanged, whilst the drug lords behind it remain free to exploit other unsuspecting or vulnerable individuals to replace those hanged,” he said.
Corruption in a justice system where evidence gathered can be compromised through forced confessions and planted evidence are reasons why the death penalty should not be used.
The Innocence Project in the US has exonerated 375 innocent people based on DNA evidence after they were wrongly sentenced due to eyewitness errors and forced confessions.
Zaid also reminded Heng that in the case of wrongful convictions, the death penalty made the error irreversible.
Yesterday, Heng described Putrajaya’s decision as a victory that belonged to the people.
He distinguished the cabinet’s decision on the abolition of the mandatory death penalty from efforts pushed by Pakatan Harapan’s administration four years ago to completely abolish the death penalty.
Zaid said it was also erroneous of Heng to assume that all families of victims of such crimes are out for blood.
“Even if some do seek some sort of retribution, it is not the role of the government to facilitate this.
“The government is there to arbitrate any wrongdoing and mete out necessary punishment which is commensurate to the gravity of the crime committed.
“That however does not permit it to use cruel and unusual forms of punishment such as the death penalty, as then the state would debase itself to the same level of the criminals it seeks to punish,” he explained.
Zaid further said this does not mean that those who commit serious crimes are to go unpunished.
“There are effective alternatives such as life imprisonment in lieu of the death penalty,” he added. – Malaysiakini