KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 — Over half of Malaysians surveyed in an online poll want the government to scrap the mandatory death sentence that leaves judges with no discretion to hand down lighter punishments.
Conducted by Barisan Nasional (BN) component party Gerakan, the online poll results showed 838 online respondents were in favour of abolishing the mandatory death sentence while 685 respondents disagreed with judges being given the discretion to decide sentences, the party’s Youth wing leader Chai Ko Thing told a news conference today.
“As you can see from the results of votes garnered, the ratio is those who agreed are 55 per cent and those who disagreed is 45 per cent,” the Gerakan Youth Legal Bureau chief said.
The survey results were collected from 1,523 anonymous Internet users over a three-week period from January 22 and February 15 through Gerakan’s online poll site bettermalaysiapoll.org.
The survey posed just one question: “In your opinion, should Malaysia abolish the mandatory death penalty?” and the results were based on the number of “Yes” or “No” clicks obtained.
According to Chai, the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia applies to various crimes such as murder, firearm possession, kidnapping with ransom, waging war against the King and drug offences.
However, he said the government has currently shown its intention to remove the mandatory death penalty for drug-related offences, a move he said is backed by public sentiments based on the poll results.
He said Gerakan had, in 2013, initiated a petition titled “No to death penalty”, adding however the scrapping of mandatory death sentences may be a good starting point and middle path.
“So the party’s stand on this issue is we are going for total abolishment of death sentence, but as a start from the result of this poll — it seems to be divided, maybe to remove mandatory, then we work towards total abolishment of death sentence,” he said.
Chai said Gerakan will present the poll’s findings to de facto law minister Nancy Shukri who is expected to present legal amendments to scrap the mandatory death sentence in Parliament next month.
Nancy had in a written parliamentary statement last November 3 said there are currently 1,022 convicted inmates awaiting execution pending their appeals against the court’s decision, adding that there were 33 executed during the 1998-Oct 2015 period while 127 others received lighter sentences or clemency due to their pleas to the State Pardons Board.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali had last November also said that he wished the courts had discretion on sending convicts to the gallows or otherwise.
Chai said the online #BetterMalaysia poll — which only allows one vote from each device — was created as a platform for the public to express their opinions on topical issues.
The simplified nature of the ongoing polls that does not ask for any details of the respondents is also to cater to Internet-savvy Malaysians especially the youths, Chai said.
He said the third question is now open for voting until March 8, declaring it as: “Does increasing traffic fines serve as an appropriate measure to change the driving attitude of road users and reduce traffic offences?”