KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s is looking into the repeal of the death penalty but the idea is creating waves of discontent among survivors of attempted murder and family members of murder victims, though there is some hope it will help solve the politically charged murder of the Mongolian model Shaaribuugiin Altantuyaa.
Malaysia has 1,200 prisoners on death row (according to Al Jazeera) but one such prisoner escaped the country and is living in detention in Australia, awaiting extradition. But his extradition will only be possible if Malaysia does not have the mandatory death penalty.
Malaysia is in a dilemma over the repeal because if it is retroactive, it means all the prisoners on death row will escape the gallows, which is not what the murder victims families would want.
Yet, if the repeal is not retroactive, Malaysia will not be able to get police corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, who fled to Australia back home. Sirul is one of Malaysia’s most wanted prisoners due to the high profile nature of his crime.
Sirul, a former bodyguard lost his appeal for political asylum in Australia but the Australian authorities have not expelled him because he will face death in Malaysia.
Together with chief inspector Azilah Hadri, Sirul was sentenced to death in April 2009 for the murder of Mongolian model Shaaribuugiin Altantuyaa, also known as Altantuyaa.
The news of the repeal received backlash from Malaysians and families of murder victims. They insist capital punishment must remain as it is the only way to deliver justice to their loved ones.
The high profile murder of Altantuyaa, linked to an adviser of ex-PM Najib Razak, Abdul Razak Baginda, is still unresolved.
Who asked the police men to kill the model? This is the question that Malaysians have been asking since the uncovering of the gruesome murder in 2007.
From his Aussie cell, Sirul made wild claims about the events that led to the murder of the Mongolian woman.
His SMS messages to a high official of the Malaysian authorities, said to be close to Abdul Razak and allegedly close to ex-PM Najib Razak have gone viral in Malaysia.
The messages mention purported negotiations between the high official and Sirul on his return to Malaysia and on cash offers made to keep his mouth shut.
The model was murdered with C-4 explosives and her remains destroyed on October 18, 2006 in a deserted area in Shah Alam, Malaysia near Kuala Lumpur.
Aside from this, another high profile murder of a local businesswoman, Sosilawati Lawiya is also in the limelight. Sosilawati disappeared while on a business trip in 2010 and is believed to have been killed and her body burned.
The daughter of the businesswoman is adamant that capital punishment should be imposed.
Proposed changes to the existing law include removing the word “mandatory” for 11 serious death offences, such as murder, armed robbery and offences against the state and Rulers.
Once passed, judges would have the discretion to impose either life imprisonment or 30 years jail, thus eliminating the death penalty option.
According to Malay Mail, nine offences fall under the Penal Code while another two under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971.
But Malaysia will keep the death sentence under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
There is no indication whether the bill will be retrospective in nature, as this is still under consideration.
It is this section that will create opposition from the public at large, particularly from those who have lost loved ones at the hands of murderers.
The number of prisoners isn’t small either with 1,200 prisoners in the country currently on death row. For the prisoners, this is an unexpected turn of events and it gives their families hope that they may be released. -/TISG