He told the First Regional Congress on the Death Penalty here that he supported the view of former de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in 2010 that it should be abolished.
“It would be difficult for the Government to appeal for a reprieve on behalf of Malaysians caught abroad as drug mules,” said the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department yesterday.
Low added that the rising number of convictions raised the question of whether the death sentence was an effective deterrent against drug trafficking.
Bar president Steven Thiru and Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said at a press conference that Low was expressing his personal view, as acknowledged by Low himself in his keynote address.
They said this when asked if they were confident that there would be any change as Low is not the first minister to give his personal support for abolition or a moratorium on the death sentence, pending its repeal.
Quoting previous statements from the ex-minister and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Steven said Low’s speech was more a repeat of a promise that had not been kept.
“If it is going to be baby steps – convert mandatory death sentences for drug mules to discretionary death sentences in the hands of a judge – then so be it and move on from there.
“But we’re neither here nor there, as though we’re back to the pre-2009 position,” he said.
The Government told the United Nations during its Universal Periodic Review in 2009 that it was considering returning discretionary powers for imposing the death penalty to the courts.
Australian lawyer Julian McMahon said he took a positive reading from Low’s speech.
“Looking at the whole region, one of the things he talked about was leadership. As an outsider, what I perceived was the opportunity for leadership in the region and the reality of momentum,” said McMahon, who was counsel for the two Australians recently executed in Indonesia for drug offences. - The Star, 12/6/2015