MALAYSIA: MINISTER AGAINST DEATH PENALTY
August 29, 2010: A senior Malaysian minister reportedly urged the government to abolish the death penalty amid outrage from rights groups.
The call came amid a debate over executions -- carried out in Malaysia by hanging -- after Kuala Lumpur last month sought clemency from Singapore for a young Malaysian drug trafficker who is facing the gallows in the city-state.
Both Malaysia and Singapore have tough anti-drug laws and rarely seek clemency for nationals facing drug charges in the other country.
"If it is wrong to take someone's life, then the government should not do it either," Nazri Aziz, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department told the Sunday Star English newspaper.
"No criminal justice system is perfect. You take a man's life and years later, you find out that another person did the crime. What can you do?" said the senior minister, who oversees legal affairs.
Local rights groups have long campaigned against the death penalty, which is mandatory for murder, drug trafficking and possession of firearms among other crimes in the country. Campaigners said the sentence was inhumane.
Malaysia filed a clemency plea to Singapore last month over the case of Yong Vui Kong, a 22-year-old who is facing the death penalty after he was convicted in 2008 of trafficking 47 grams (1.65 ounces) of heroin into Singapore.
The case has received wide attention in the two countries, after activists petitioned for his life to be spared. Yong, who was 19 when he was caught, said he has repented and pledged to campaign against drugs. (Sources: Afp, 29/08/2010)