“Abolishing mandatory death penalty will embolden murderers,” warn victims’ grief-stricken kin

AS she fought back tears, the mother of a rape and murder victim made a tearful plea to the government to retain the mandatory death penalty

60-year-old Alice Tan Siew Ling, whose 17-year-old daughter was raped and murdered in 2009, broke down during a press conference in the Parliament lobby today (April 3).

Clutched in her hands is a portrait of her daughter Annie Kok Yin Cheng, who was raped and killed in 2009.

“My daughter was killed in 2009 when she was 17. She was raped and murdered. (The murderer) slit her neck and she died,” were the only words she was able to muster at the press conference before choking up and was unable to continue.

Tan is a member of a group of families of murder victims who are strongly opposed to any efforts to abolish the mandatory death penalty, which the Dewan Rakyat is debating today.

Other groups who were opposed to the bill were also at the press conference.

At the same press conference, Kedah Pembela Ummah chairperson Noor Hakimi Abd Halim said his friend, a security guard in Sungai Petani, Kedah, was also a murder victim.

“He was attacked by three assailants and murdered with a parang. If the mandatory death penalty is abolished, criminals will no longer be scared. Please think about the families of the victims,” he said.

“If the mandatory death penalty is abolished, murderers will feel safe and would no longer be afraid to murder.”

Under the mandatory death penalty abolishment bill, judges still have the discretion to sentence those convicted of murder to hang.

However, judges may also choose to hand down an alternative sentence of 30 to 40 years imprisonment and whipping.

Lawyer Christina Teng, who was also present, said the mandatory penalty should be retained for heinous crimes involving the loss of life.

She pointed out that many judges preferred not to mete out hanging sentences after being given the discretion to impose a non-lethal penalty.

She said that even life imprisonment usually did not go beyond 30 to 40 years of jail time and justice would not be served on those who had committed abominable crimes.

“A brutal killer who has raped and murdered will [eventually] be released [if the death penalty is abolished]. [Jail] is not a serious enough punishment for heinous crimes,” she argued.

“We ask the government to focus on cleaning up the justice system and address the many loopholes and weak enforcement instead of abolishing the mandatory death sentence.”

She also appealed to the government to put the interests of victims and their families before consideration for the perpetrators.

On March 27, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said tabled the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 for first reading, along with revisions to the death sentence and imprisonment for natural life. – April 3, 2023


Main pic credit: New Straits Times

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