The government has agreed to abolish the mandatory death sentence in Malaysia. As a result, the sentencing will be up to the court’s discretion according to the announcement by Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Parliament and Law.
In general, the decision to abolish the mandatory death sentence did not materialise overnight. As noted by Dr Junaidi’s previous statement earlier this year, the government first established the Special Committee to Review Alternative Sentences to the Mandatory Death Penalty back in late August 2019.
The committee which is led by former Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tun Richard Malanjum has since presented their findings and recommendations to the minister in January 2022. At that time, Junaidi noted that the report would be presented to the Cabinet by late February but eventually, the presentation only took place earlier this week.
At the moment, there are 11 offences that carry a mandatory death sentence including nine that are under the Penal Code provision while the other two are listed under the Malaysia Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act. Among such offences include committing terrorist acts, murder, drug trafficking, hostage-taking that resulted in death, and discharge of a firearm.
In addition to that, there are also another 22 offences that have the death penalty although the court still has the final say on the actual sentencing for these offences. Waging a war against Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a Ruler, or Yang di-Pertua Negeri is among one of them.
Meanwhile, Dr Junaidi has also noted in today’s announcement that further review on the alternative sentencing to the mandatory death penalty is currently in the works. Hence, the minister didn’t provide any timeline in regards to this matter but it seems rather likely that the changes are going to take some time.
(Source: Dr Wan Junaidi / Twitter.)