DAP calls for suspension of the Attorney-General’s powers to certify cases as security cases which require mandatory death penalty on conviction until a full review of such cases in the last 10 years

Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Monday, 29.7.1985 at 11.30 am to launch the Save Condemned Sim Kie Chon Campaign in Penang State.

DAP calls for suspension of the Attorney-General’s powers to certify cases as security cases which require mandatory death penalty on conviction until a full review of such cases in the last 10 years.

I have come to Penang to launch the Save Convict Sim Kie Chong Campaign in the Penang State, to ask the people of Penang to support the public appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to exercise his prerogative of mercy to pardon Sim by commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment.

Malaysians are shocked that former Cabinet Minister, Mochtar Hashim, who discharged a
firearm and killed Negri Sembilan Assembly Speaker, Datuk Taha, could be reprieved by having
his death penalty commuted to life imprisonment while Sim, 28, a Penangite, who had unlawful possession of a revolver but did not harm or kill anybody, was not pardoned and saved from the
gallows. At present, Sim may be hanged at day, any times

This is clearly unfair and unjust, and makes a complete mockery of Article 8 of the Malaysian Constitution which guarantees equality for all Malaysians before the law.

I have no doubt that if Sim had not been charged under the Internal Security Act where death penalty
is mandatory on conviction, any judge who convicted him would have exercised discretion available
to him to give him a sentence short of death penalty.

The mandatory death penalty laws in Malaysia are brutal and barbaric, and unless they are tempered
by the commutation of such death penalties to life imprisonment except in unredeemable cases, Malaysia’s reputation as a civilized society would be seriously blemished in the world.

I want to make it very clear that I am not questioning the prerogative or mercy of the
Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The people, however, have the right to question the Pardons Board, which in Sim’s case, comprised the Attorney-General, the Minister for Federal Territory and three members appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, if the Pardons Board operated in a capricious
and manifestly discriminatory manner, when it makes its recommendations.

As the Attorney-General is the most important member of the Pardons Board, and Article 42(9) of the Malaysian Constitution provides that ‘before tendering their advice on any matter, a Pardons Board shall consider any written opinion which the Attorney-General may have delivered thereon’, the people are entitled to ask the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman to let Malaysians know whether he had recommended the pardon and commutation of death sentence of Mochtar Hashim while recommending the rejection of Sim’s appeal for pardon. If the Attorney-General had done this, he should give his reasons to justify his action in the bar of public opinion.

During the Supreme Court hearing of Sim’s appeal in Ipoh on Monday, July 22, 1985,
the Senior Federal Counsel Mohd. Rauff bin Nabi Box, argued that pardon was granted on considerations of ‘mercy and policy’. What are the elements of this ‘policy’ which form the basis of the
Attorney-General’s recommendations to the Pardons Board in both the Mochtar Hashim and Sim Kie Chon cases?

The Sim Kie Chon case has again highlighted the brutality and barbarity of Malaysia’s
mandatory death penalty laws, and put Malaysia in a very adverse light in international opinion.

The powers of the Attorney-General to certify cases as ‘security cases’ which require mandatory
death sentence to be passed on conviction are ‘terrible’powers as illustrated by the Sim Kie Chon and other cases.

I call for the immediate suspension of the Attorney-General’s powers to certify cases as security cases which require mandatory death penalty to be passed on conviction until a full and thorough review of such ‘security cases’ and mandatory death penalties of the last 10 years.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry should be established to review the operation of such ‘security cases’ provisions and mandatory death penalties laws for the last l0 years, and consider whether such laws should be abolished altogether.

Nation-Wide Signature Campaign to Save condemned Sim Kie Chon a mission of mercy

The nation-wide signature campaign launched by the DAP to save condemned Sim Kie Chon is a
mission of mercy. I am confident that if the people of Malaysia make their views known loud and clear to the authorities, the government would have to give serious consideration to them

The people of Penang will still remember the case of the I4 year-old in Penang in 1977 who
was sentenced to death for possession of a firearm. As a result of nation-wide public uproar and protest, the boy’s death sentence was commuted.

Another instance is the 13 condemned in 1968, who were sent to the Death Row awaiting execution after they were convicted and sentenced to death for consorting with the Indonesian Confrontationists.
The DAP launched a nation-wide signature campaign to save the l3-condemned, and together with the nation-wide protest against such brutal attitude in demanding the life of the 13-condemned
who were mostly in their teens, their lives were finally saved with commutation of their death sentence to life imprisonment. Life imprisonment means 20 years of jail, and with one-third’s reduction in the actual serving of sentence, works out to 13&1/3 years of jail sentences. All these 13 condemned, who
would have been hanged in 1968 if not for public outcry, are now free men and returned to society, with our society none the worse for such elemency, being shown to them.

I call on the people of Malaysia, especially in Penang, to come forward and respond to the DAP’s Save Condemned Sim Kie Chon signature campaign, so as to appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the fountain of mercy to show clemency to Sim and give him another chance in life.