Gerakan is planning to launch a campaign to collect 100,000 signatures to call for the abolition of the death penalty in January.

The party's national legal and human rights bureau chief Baljit Singh said the call to abolish capital punishment in Malaysia cuts across the political divide.

"There are those in Gerakan who support the death penalty as there are some in Pakatan, too. But this issue cuts across borders, so let's work on it together," he told Malaysiakini.

Baljit added that Gerakan welcomes all parties and NGOs, covering all issues - whether social, economic, or political to join forces to get rid of this law.

It is learnt that Churches and Buddhist groups have indicated their interest in joining the campaign.

"This is one of Gerakan's effort to go back to the party's basic struggle. This issue will be brought to the prime minister and Parliament with the hope that it would be discussed and debate and eventually lead to the abolishment of the law," he said.

Penalty also comes under review

Baljit added that  while Gerakan calls for the law which he described as "cruel, inhuman and archaic", to be abolished,  the punishment under the law is also under review.

"We will study if the punishment is commensurate with the gravity of the crime. It is a degrading law which is against basic human rights, the right to life," he said.

At least 20 countries have put a lid on the death penalty while in Malaysia, the law is imposed for drugs trafficking, kidnapping, murder, possession of fire arms and waging war against the king.

Death could be by hanging, execution (shooting), electric chair and the administration of lethal injection.

Baljit said the arguments of those who support the law range from rehabilitation of the criminal being useless, that the public should not bear the cost of prisons, public safety, crime deterrent, retribution (an eye for an eye) and vengeance.

"Vengeance tops the list of reasons for supporting the death penalty. If it is a good deterrent, then why is it that those caught for drugs continue to rise?" He asked.

"On the other hand, there are concerns that people are wrongly convicted, there is also the religious and moral argument that we cannot put another human being to death (we are not God)," he added.

"We see in many cases that it is always the small fish (insignificant people) who get caught. It is always the drug mules like Malaysian Yong Vui Kong detained in Singapore and not the kingpins who faces the death penalty," he stressed.

"Also, there are incidences where those who commit lesser crime are dealt heavier penalties, instead of those who commit big crimes".

Baljit said Malaysia has yet to endorse a moratorium on the death penalty called by the United Nation General Assembly in 2007 and 2010.

"It is time Malaysia joined the moratorium," said Baljit. - Malaysiakini, 21/12/2013, Gerakan moves to unite M'sians against death penalty