Death penalty mandatory for trafficking in dangerous drugs; discharging a firearm in the commission of a scheduled offence; accomplices in case of discharge of firearm; offences against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s person; murder. Discretionary for kidnapping; consorting with a person carrying or having possession of arms or explosives; waging or attempting to wage war or abetting the waging of war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a Ruler or Yang di-Pertua Negeri

MALAYSIA – An appeal to review the death penalty

february 7, 2014

FMT LETTER: From Syerleena Abdul Rashid, via e-mail

The Malaysian system of criminal law and punishment needs further scrutiny and must be questioned. Imprisonment, the whole penal system and most importantly, the death penalty should be reviewed. There is without a doubt that people who commit crimes and offences must be punished as this is retribution for their misdeeds.  It is accepted that, when the criminal suffers from pain, physically or emotionally, that must or might equate to the wrong doings- justice is served.

How feasible is the death penalty in curbing crimes? How can the system execute Malaysians when the burden of proof is necessitated? Moreover, how can the system ensure the evidence provided was not tampered with or that cases were thoroughly investigated, to ensure a person was given a fair trial therefore given the right judgment?

These are ethical question that examines the morality and logic of such a punishment. There are obvious elements that influence people to go against individual rights and commit crimes that violate existing laws. Issues such as poverty and education have always been highlighted as one of the main causes of such behaviour. Calls to implement Hudud or Syariah Laws by the conservative Islamists do not solve the problem, ignoring the problem will be an unhealthy step in understanding human welfare and the rights of every man, woman and child.

According to Amnesty International, in 2012, there were approximately 900 inmates sitting in death row in Malaysian prisons. The actual number for 2013/2014 is vague as our government is not transparent. The Malaysian government is known for its secrecy in releasing such data especially relating to the death penalty.  So we can only estimate that the numbers have increased.

Malaysians must understand the complexity of this situation, especially when there so many reported cases of injustice and police abuse.  Our prisons are filled with inmates who were not just guilty of the crimes they committed but were unable to obtain a reputable defense lawyer due to financial difficulties or simply were too uneducated to acquire basic language skills needed to communicate effectively in court?

The overwhelming injustice that confronts the poor, the illiterate, the racially discriminated and racially profiled needs to be urgently addressed before the judiciary can hand down further death sentences to Malaysians and citizens of other nations who were unfortunate to be thrown in Malaysian prisons, who although may have committed crimes but were not severe enough to be given the death sentence. Our courts are also well known to favour the affluent and the politically connected. There are too many reported cases that verify this.

Today (Feb 7, 2014), P Chandran will be executed for a crime he committed  over 11 years ago. His unfortunate death, if his family fails to repeal his sentence, will be a dark day for Malaysians who respect human rights and believe that the rehabilitated should be given another chance.

The writer is an Aliran member based in Penang


New Report on the Death Penalty in Malaysia

A new report by the London-based Death Penalty Project explores the use of mandatory death sentencing in Malaysia.

In the U.S., the Supreme Court barred the use of mandatory death sentences in 1976, holding that judges and juries needed to consider the individual differences among defendants, out of respect for human diginity. (Woodson v. North Carolina, and other opinions).

DPP’s report found that the number of executions carried out in Malaysia has declined in the last decade even though there have been no major changes in law or reforms in the system.

As part of the research, a poll was conducted to discern the public’s support for mandatory death sentences.

The poll found little public opposition to abolishing the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking and firearms offenses, though 56% of respondents still supported a mandatory death sentence for murder.

Click on the link below (Comment) to read full text of the report.


Australian facing death penalty walks free Emma Louise L’Aiguille

November 9, 2012

An Australian woman who has had Malaysian drug trafficking charges against her dropped says she is not taking anything for granted after her release from detention.

Emma Louise L’Aiguille was facing the death penalty after being charged along with a Nigerian man with allegedly possessing one kilogram of methamphetamine.

A Kuala Lumpur court ordered Ms L’Aiguille be freed today after nearly four months in detention.

It is understood the prosecution could not be sure the 34-year-old nurse had any knowledge of the drugs which were in a vehicle she had been driving in when arrested.

After her release, Ms L’Aiguille said the ordeal has irrevocably changed her.

“I’ll not take things for granted,” she said.

“I’m not angry at him anymore, more at myself for being stupid.

“Should have been more wise.”

One of Ms L’Aiguille lawyers, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, said the case was consistent with the findings of an investigation by Malaysian police.

“This matching indicates that there is more than a reasonable reason to believe that she has not been involved in the trafficking,” he said.

“She is a person that is innocent, had no knowledge that in the car she was driving temporarily, there were drugs.”

Her Australian lawyer, Tania Scivetti, says her client must now remain in Malaysia until the trial of Nigerian man Anthony Esikalam Ndidi begins, which, she says, could take up to six months.

Ms Scivetti says that was one of three conditions of Ms L’Aiguille’s release.

“She is to cooperate with the police if they require any further statements from her,” he said.

“She is to attend all court hearings for the second accused, Anthony.

“And the third condition is that she is to remain in Malaysia unless prior consent is given by the attorney-general for her to travel outside the country.”

Ms Scivetti says a trial date for Ndidi has not been set.

“They’ve only fixed a mention date, which is December 11, pending the service of the chemist report.

“But the way the cases are moving in Malaysia, I think the trial should be fixed around April, May next year.”

Govt Tries to Rescue Bulgarians on Death Row in Malaysia

NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry will attempt to rescue the two Bulgarians recentlysentenced to death for drug trafficking in Malaysia, it has been made clear.

Angel Orbetsov, head of the Asia, Australia and Oceania Directorate at theBulgarian Foreign Ministry, is to arrive on  Monday in Kuala Lumpur, where he will meet with representatives of Malaysia‘s Foreign Ministry, according to the Bulgarian National Television.

Orbetsov is expected to declare that Bulgaria and the rest of the EU do not support the death penalty as a judicial measure.

On May 18, 2011, Bulgarian nationals Georgi Georgiev, Ivan Kostov, and Georgi Bakalov were arrested at the Sultan Ismail International Airport in Johor Bahru,Malaysia, on drug trafficking charges.

Due to the lack of evidence for his involvement into the crime, Georgi Georgiev was released and deported to Bulgaria.

Kostov and Bakalov were sentenced to death at the end of October. They insist they were unaware they were transporting illegal drugs, and were told the package included Viagra and other pills.

A total of 900 people are currently on death row in Malaysia, with the last deathpenalty actually carried out in the country being in the distant 1986.

On Saturday, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov noted that Bulgaria‘s interference in the case is triggered only by the death penalty, not by the guilt or the lack of guilt of the two Bulgarians.


KUALA LUMPUR: The proposal to replace the mandatory death sentence for drug offences with imprisonment has been lauded by the legal fraternity

october 21, 2012

Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee said the Bar Council had always been against the death penalty.

“If it is wrong to take someone’s life, then the government should not do it either. It’s ironic (to have such a law) and not correct,” he said.

Lim said records had shown that despite having the death penalty, the number of drug trafficking offences had not been reduced.

“The numbers have instead increased. This shows that the death penalty has had a zero deterrent effect.”

He said the council hailed the move as a historic moment for the criminal justice system in Malaysia as it represented a significant step in humanising criminal law.

Syariah lawyer Nizam Bashir was also in favour of abolishing the death penalty and believed it should be repealed for offences that were out of sync with the public conscience.

“The argument has been that no matter how good a system is, it will never be error-free,” he said.

He said that in light of weaknesses in the legal system, innocent people could be found guilty of the offence and sentenced to death.

Nizam explained that when the sentence was first introduced in the country, it was to ensure that the law kept pace with changes in society.

“It was to show that Malaysia was serious about acting on drug offences by imposing the death penalty, given the harm caused by these drug traffickers and the number of lives they destroyed.

“Justice can be tempered with mercy and, where appropriate, offenders should be given a second chance.”

M’sia may scrap death penalty for drug offences

october 22,2012

PADANG RENGAS (Perak) – The Malaysian government is looking into the possibility of withdrawing the mandatory death sentence for drug offences and replacing it with jail terms, The Star newspaper reported yesterday.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz said the Attorney-General’s Chambers would study the viability of the move.

“There are close to 250 Malaysians arrested as drug mules and sentenced to death abroad, including in China, Venezuela and Peru. It is difficult to justify our appeal to these countries not to hang them when our own has the mandatory death sentence,” he was quoted as saying on Saturday.

“If the Government is going ahead with the suggestion, we need … a moratorium on death sentences from being carried out for those convicted in Malaysia,” Mr Nazri was quoted as saying.

“We are considering an alternative of 30 years’ jail or more and allowing judges to have discretionary power.”

Singapore recently tabled amendments in Parliament to its death penalty regime, making the death sentence no longer mandatory for some drug trafficking and homicide cases.

For Killing a Burglar, Two Indonesians Sentenced to Death in Malaysia

October 18, 2012

Two Indonesian migrant workers from Pontianak, West Kalimantan, were sentenced to death on Thursday by the Shah Alam high court in Selangor, Malaysia, for killing a Malaysian burglar in December 2010.

Antara news agency reported that the two, brothers Frans Hiu and Dharry Frully Hiu, who work in a Playstation rental cafe, will appeal the decision. The two claim they’re innocent and only acted in self-defense.

Frans and Dharry said they were asleep inside their house on Jalan 4, Taman Sri Sungai Pelek, Selangor, when they realized someone had entered their home.

Frans said he struggled with the burglar, idenfitied as R. Khartic, while Dharry tried to flee. Amid the struggle, Frans said he was able to grab the burglar in a neck-hold until the perpetrator ran out of breath and died.

The judge handling the case, Nur Cahaya Rasha, approved prosecutor Zainal Azwar’s demand to sentence the two to death by hanging.

The father of the burglar, V.P. Rajah, was seen crying out loud when the judge read the verdict. In 2004, his son Khartic was arrested after getting involved in a fight with thugs.