Lingswaran Singh calls for the abolishment of the death penalty in Malaysia.
Reality just seems so absurd that I have to voice out my concerns as I keep wondering if the judiciary is also as absurd as the executives and legislators. Given the unpredictable nature of our social politics, and non-confidence in the status quo, the judiciary being the third arm of the government is now under strict scrutiny, and some recent decisions made a lot of people laugh.
As an officer of the court, I was baffled by one particular decision — it was void of justice, and there was something very evil about it. It made me feel exactly like how I felt when I saw the evening news on 20 September 1998 when Anwar Ibrahim was fired, and on 20 March 2003 when the United States invaded Iraq.
That decision ladies and gentlemen, provoked my thoughts. I was wondering if we should continue to allow the law to send people to their death. We are a sovereign nation, we have a constitution, and Westminster styled Parliament. On 1 January 1995, our government abolished the jury system, citing inter alia the danger of jurors untrained in the legal profession delivering verdicts biased by emotions or popular perception.
So it’s okay to deliver verdicts biased by emotions or popular perception if you are trained in the legal profession? If the courts can allow banning of words, that court should not be given the right to sanction killings.
The juries’ last case was that of the notorious Maznah Ismail or popularly known as Mona Fandey in 1994. Maznah, her husband, and their assistant were tried in Temerloh High Court by a seven-person jury. The High Court found all three of them guilty and sentenced them to death by hanging. They appealed to the Federal Court, and in 1999 the court dismissed their appeals and upheld the death sentence.
The Pardons Board of Pahang refused them clemency. They were given a last meal of KFC on the night before their execution. They were finally hanged on 2 November 2001, at Kajang Prison.
After her verdict and sentence was read, her last words were “Aku takkan mati…” (I will not die…). Deep in my mind, I imagine her ghost and another popular ghost haunting the Barisan Nasional candidate for the coming Kajang by-election, but that’s just me.
As an officer of the court, I will endlessly persuade the courts to abandon capital punishment.
We must aspire to denounce violence in all aspects of civil order as we progress into a first world society. Accordingly our laws must be free from violence as much as possible, and it must develop to international standards and serve a greater purpose in the building of our society. As a member of the United Nations we should at least comply with the moratorium.
State sanctioned killings should not be a part of our future, and I refuse to take pride in such violence. Our law is not only unfair; it is regressive and damaging to the growth of our society.
Considering that the use of the death penalty undermines human dignity, and that there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty’s deterrent value and that it against the United Nations moratorium on execution, I hereby respectfully plead for judges to discontinue the use of capital punishments and denounce such powers. I also urge legislators to suggest an amendment to Article 5 of The Federal Constitution, so that we may abolish the death penalty.
In 2002, Bosnia and Herzegovina abolished capital punishment. We helped that nation stand when they were war torn. They understand the value of human life, and we do not need a similar lesson to learn the value of human lives. We must put an end to capital punishment and join the rest of the world in denouncing it.
Recently, Sweden started closing prisons as the numbers of inmates had drastically dropped. If a nation can do that, then it is obvious that we are doing things the wrong way. We need to stop killing people and start addressing the reasons behind why crime is on the rise.
We are living in very interesting times — knowledge and connectivity is constantly changing every aspects of our lives. The dynamics of our society is changing rapidly, and in order to stay relevant, our law has to change accordingly.
Once upon a time, rulers and governments had almost absolute power over society. That was a time fear and respect for law and order was almost absolute. Today, we witness societies collapsing as people are turning against their corrupt governments. We would be naïve to think that we are far from such social phenomenon. The current affairs of our national politics are a perfect brew for social economic disasters. There is no reason to why Malaysians would not learn from the Occupy Movement or even the Egyptian revolution.
There is a genuine change in how societies are working worldwide, evidence of uprisings are aplenty, the search for an alternative social system is now ever more real. These changes are inevitable, and history has countless times taught us that there is no point in resisting a revolution. It is a natural process of how societies develop, and it is often ugly because those in power will not let it go easily. We do not necessarily have to risk chaos and disorder; we can maintain peace and order and allow for the change to take place by strengthening our democracy.
A dialectical approach in administering and legislating law is now a necessity. It is very obsolete to think that the only purpose of the courts is to dispense justice and maintain order.
The courts play a greater role — the attitude of the courts shapes the mentality of our society, our judgments, and our world view. The courts are akin to the conscience of our society, and sadly Malaysia as persona still hangs people to death.
We have to change this. The killings must stop, and the state shall not have the power to deprive any person of life. Happy Valentine’s Day.