KUALA LUMPUR – As of October 31, Malaysian courts have received 924 applications for sentence reviews from convicts serving mandatory death sentences and life imprisonment.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Ramkarpal Singh revealed that out of these applications, 807 are for mandatory death sentence reviews and 117 for life imprisonment. This surge in applications follows the enactment of the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act 2023 (Act 846), effective July 4, and the Review of Sentence of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Act 2023 (Act 847), effective September 12.
According to BERNAMA News Agency, a total of 1,020 prisoners are expected to benefit from the provisions of Act 847. The first hearings under this act are scheduled for November 14 at the Federal Court in Putrajaya. Ramkarpal noted that there is no specific timeline for the review process, which will be conducted in phases. He made these comments while concluding the debate on the Supply Bill 2024 at the committee level for his department.
Additionally, Ramkarpal mentioned that approximately RM12 million has been allocated for the sentence review applications, including legal aid services. This information was sought earlier in the debate by Gobind Singh Deo (PH-Damansara), who queried about the number of sentence review applications and the associated costs.
In another development, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah, Sarawak Affairs and Special Functions) Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong addressed the role of the Community Communications Department (J-KOM). Contrary to some views, he stated that J-KOM has never functioned as a political tool but rather as a government community communications agency, focusing on fostering a culture of knowledge, digital skills, and patriotism.
Despite a reduction in J-KOM’s allocation for 2024, Wilson assured that the department would continue to efficiently disseminate government information, counter fake news and slander, and adapt its narrative to ensure the public receives verified news. He highlighted various programmes like ‘Semarak MADANI’, ‘Anak Muda Celik Digital’ workshop, ‘Santun Komuniti’ Programme, and the Malaysia MADANI Special Briefing.
Regarding the reduced management allocation to the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) for the upcoming year, Wilson clarified that it would not impact aid for disaster victims. He explained that disaster allocations are sourced from the National Disaster Relief Trust Fund (KWABBN), which is distributed to State Disaster Management Committees (JPBN) ahead of the Northeast Monsoon. The reduction pertains to operational management expenses, particularly in supplies and services.