KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) praised the Johor Pardon Board for releasing a man who had been facing execution for 29 years.
Suhakam chairman Prof Datuk Rahmat Mohamad simultaneously urged the government to speed up legal reforms to abolish the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia.
“We would like to extend our appreciation to DYMM Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, the Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, Prisons Department, human rights activists, and family members for their tireless efforts in securing his release.
“We commend all parties involved for their compassionate and merciful approach towards this case,” he added.
It was previously reported that the former inmate, Chong Yun Fak, was arrested in 1987 while possessing 47g of heroin and was sentenced to death in 1992 for drug trafficking.
Chong’s nearly three decades on death row previously moved the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (Adpan) to call for his release, saying the 34 years he spent already spent in prison was “unjust”.
Today, Rahmat said Chong’s case was not isolated, and many others in prison shared similar circumstances.
“We urge immediate steps be taken to review all cases involving prisoners held in death row or long- term incarceration.
“Suhakam believes that justice must be served, but we also believe that compassion and mercy should be taken into account, particularly in cases where circumstances warrant it,” he said.
Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said told the Senate that the Cabinet has agreed to several new policies related to the efforts to abolish the mandatory death penalty.
She said the new policies, endorsed at its meeting last Friday, include replacing life imprisonment as an alternative to mandatory death sentence with the new alternative of jail of between 30 and 40 years and whipping of not fewer than 12 strokes.
The Bill for these amendments is expected to be tabled on Monday.