Malaysia stalls execution after outcry

February 08, 2014 - 2:20:08 am
KUALA LUMPUR: Amnesty International yesterday said Malaysia has postponed plans to execute a man for murder in a case that sparked an outcry from rights groups.

Chandran Paskaran, a Malaysian, was sentenced to hang in 2008 for killing another man in a fight five years earlier in the southern state of Johor.

Amnesty had earlier revealed that it learned the execution of Chandran, 35, was set yesterday.

The government is tight-lipped about its application of capital punishment.

Shamini Darshni, executive director of Amnesty International’s Malaysia chapter, yesterday the execution was halted on the order of Johor’s state sultan.

“The risk to his life, however, is not over, and his death sentence must be commuted immediately,” Shamini said in a later statement.

Amnesty and other rights groups have urged Malaysia to abolish the death penalty.

“What happens to cases of imminent executions which do not get the same attention from civil society and the media?” Shamini asked.  “There are many others in Chandran’s position - the hundreds of prisoners on death row in Malaysia should have their sentences commuted immediately,” she said.

Amnesty said hanging Chandran would be an “enormous step backwards on human rights” and chided Malaysia for staging “secretive” executions to evade criticism.

New York-based Human Rights Watch and the Malaysian Bar Council were among groups echoing Amnesty’s calls to spare Chandran.

Various Malaysian government authorities declined comment or did not immediately respond to queries.

About 900 people were on death row in Malaysia as of 2012, mostly for drug offences, according to the government. 

In 2012 a government minister said the country may reconsider a mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking, raising rights groups’ hopes, but nothing further has been announced. 

Between 1960 and 2011, nearly 450 people were executed, according to data released in 2011.