Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Maintaining the death penalty is against Malaysian culture and values

In Malaysia, when a person is sentenced to death, most of the time it is not highlighted in the media or by the government. When an execution takes place, there is no media coverage before the event, and certainly also no highlighting of it when it happens.

The figures and data of persons sentenced to death - or executed is also not highlighted. in fact, you do not even find it in the web pages of the Attorney General's Chambers, the Police or even the Home Ministry.

If it is meant to act as a deterrent, then logically, the government must act in such a way - to show people that they really will be punished in that way. In comparison, when it comes to death caused by road accidents, these are highlighted in the media, and there are even notice boards putting fear into people to drive carefully in accordance with the law, which states the number of deaths in these accidents.

Hence, the death penalty, the Barisan Nasional government argues is a deterrent - but alas, their actions do not support this. The failure to highlight these sentences, executions and necessary statistics to put in the fear in others not to commit the crime maybe because the Malaysian government itself is embarrassed of this death penalty in the laws. Remove it then - what is the BN government waiting for.

Now, the only way to get clear statistics about the death penalty is through questions asked in Parliament - and some good MPs and Senators do take the trouble to ask these questions and then circulate the answers... 

Some are just not bothered, for after all it does not affect them or their family, and maybe also because they just do not care. Some do not want to deal with the question of death penalty because Islam provides for death penalty - but the point that must be made is that these death penalty and executions are happening by virtue of civil laws - not Islamic laws, and certainly not in accordance to stringent requirement of evidence as provided for in Islam.

Christianity also sees the death penalty as being a form of punishment as provided for in the Old Testament - but Jesus changes this. We remember the story in the Bible where a women was caught for adultery, and was to be stoned to death in accordance with the Old Testament law. What Jesus did was to stop it? He did not say that it must be proven in accordance to a certain standards before the women be executed by stoning. He challenged the persons who were going to put effect that law by saying that whoever has not sinned shall cast the first stone. And after all had left, he told the woman to go and not sin again. That was a clear law that imposed the death penalty, and Jesus's response must be a guidance for all of us. Forgiveness - and liberty with the advice not to sin again. 

Likewise, in all major religions be it Islam, Christianity, Buddhism - one element is repentance, forgiveness and another chance. You may not want a person guilty of an offence to go free - so sentence him to imprisonment not kill him/her. 

"And early in the morning He came again into the Temple , and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down, and taught them."

"And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the Law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?"

"This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him."

"But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground."

"And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst."

"When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?"

"She said, No man, Lord."

"And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." (John 8:2-11 KJV)

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