Monday, September 11, 2006
Dr M attacked in death penalty debate
Beh Lih Yi
Sep 11, 06 4:10pm
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz appears to be using every opportunity that arises to criticise former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
This was apparent during the question and answer session in the Dewan Rakyat today, where Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) became collateral damage in the attack.
The minister used the death penalty issue to draw a comparison between Mahathir and his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
It started when Karpal asked if the government would review using the death penalty since Nazri had supported calls for its abolishment recently.
Explaining that it was his personal stand, the minister said: “Regarding my statement, I am free to give my views in this more open administration but I will have to adhere to the government’s final decision, this is democracy.
“Maybe (Karpal) is still trapped in the time when his ‘mentor’ was the prime minister,” he added in an obvious reference to Mahathir.
Nazri once again attacked Mahathir when Karpal, in a supplementary question, asked why the minister breached the cabinet’s spirit of collective responsibility by supporting calls to abolish the death penalty.
“You (Karpal) are not a minister. I comply to whatever final decision which is made by the government, not like your mentor (Mahathir), after the cabinet makes a decision (he) still makes noise,” he said.
Nazri has been Mahathir’s strongest critic since the 81-year-old former premier launched an offensive against the current administration.
On one occasion, the minister even challenged Mahathir to “be a man and resign from Umno”.
Earlier, Nazri said Malaysia would not abolish the death penalty as it served as a ‘good deterrent’ to hardcore crimes..
“It (the death penalty) has to be maintained to show the government’s determination and seriousness in fighting heavy crimes,” he added.
Citing an example, the minister said the police’s surprise announcement last week to slash traffic fines led to the perception that the police was not serious in combating such offences. The cabinet later reversed the decision.
Nazri, who is also the defacto law minister, said there were enough ‘safeguards’ in the legal system to ensure a death penalty would not be simply handed down.
In his supplementary question, Karpal said there was no proof that the death penalty served as a good deterrent but the minister disagreed.
“Murders still happen even though we have the death penalty in place at the moment, try to imagine when there is no death penalty?” he argued.
The Malaysian Bar, which represents some 12,000 lawyers, had passed a resolution during its annual general meeting in March calling for the death penalty to be abolished and for a moratorium on all executions.
Malaysia remains one of the 74 countries yet to abolish capital punishment while 123 other countries have done so.