In a statement here today, the coalition said the issue had been brought up as early as 2010 when the then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz publicly stated that the death penalty was not suitable for Malaysia.
It said since then, studies were carried out to review the efficacy of laws relating to the death sentence, including one commissioned by the government and undetaken by the International Centre for Law and Legal Studies in Malaysia that in 2016 recommended to the Cabinet the total abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia.
"For the former IGP to say that no proper study had been undertaken or that the present Cabinet's decision to totally abolish the death penalty for all crimes is premature has certainly failed to take into account the existing facts in relation to the question of the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia,” it said.
On Wednesday the former IGP had expressed his objection to the government's proposal to abolish the death penalty and had urged the government to review it.
Rahim had also suggested that a referendum be held at the Dewan Rakyat to decide on the matter.
The coalition also lauded the government for showing leadership in deciding to abolish the death penalty.
The statement said that there was also no credible empirical evidence to show that the abolition of the death penalty in a particular jurisdiction had led or would lead to an increase in the crime rate in that jurisdiction.
"The ineffectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent was initially recognised in the amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 effected in 2017 which removed the mandatory death penalty for drug-related offences. The then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of law said that this was a 'baby step’ towards the eventual total abolition of the death penalty.
“As the former IGP will himself be personally familiar, the existence of even harsh punishment does not deter a person from commiting a crime, be it for an offence of causing hurt or for murder,” the statement said.
The coalition also stressed that abolition of the death penalty as a form of punishment did not mean that the perpetrators of crimes would be set free, and that they would still be punished for the crimes they had committed.