Feb 3, 05 8:56am
The government has revealed that it executed 358 people by hanging in the past 24 years, parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said today.
Lim said he had received the statistics from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also Minister for Internal Security, in response to a written question submitted in parliament.
Figures for the number of executions in Malaysia have rarely been published, and media attempts to establish the number in recent years were rebuffed.
The death penalty is imposed in Malaysia for a number of offences from murder and treason to drug trafficking, for which it is mandatory.
Lim, who leads the biggest opposition party in parliament, the Democratic Action Party, said the prisons department had provided him with a statistical breakdown of just 234 of the hangings.
This showed that 50 foreign nationals were hanged, including seven from Thailand, eight from Hong Kong, 23 from the Philippines, four from Singapore, two from Indonesia and one each from Australia, Britain and Pakistan.
Forty-six of them were hanged for drug offences.
Of 184 Malaysian citizens executed, 48 were from the indigenous Malay majority, 102 were members of the ethnic Chinese minority and 15 were ethnic Indians. Most of the executions - 129 - were also for drug offences.
Five of the 234 people hanged were women.
12 hanged under ISA
Twelve of the executions were for offences under the Internal Security Act (ISA), all between 1984 and 1993. Lim told AFP he could not immediately account for the number of hangings for security offences in such a concentrated period.
The act, most widely known for the powers it gives the authorities to detain people without trial, also prescribes the mandatory death penalty for certain offences to be tried in court, including carrying firearms, ammunition or explosives "in any security area".
The ISA was introduced by former British colonisers to fight a communist insurgency in the 1950s, and has been used more recently to detain without trial more than 80 suspected Islamic militants.
The number of executions overall, according to the limited figures released by the prisons department, reached a peak of 31 in 1990 while just 15 had been hanged since 2000. None were executed last year, according to these statistics.
Lim said the period between the end of all appeals and the carrying out of the sentence varied from less than a year to more than four years.