Hannah Yeoh, the Deputy Women, Family, and Community Development, who on Monday was called out by the mother of a murdered 15-year-old regarding her views on death penalty abolition, has now taken to her official Facebook page to respond
The Deputy Minister said that the mother, whose child was murdered some six years ago, "lashed out against me, based on what she read from the press report in Chinese media" about her speech at a forum on the death penalty held in her constituency.
I understand this mother's anger and her emotions are valid.
She said being a mother, children issues are close to her heart.
"(The) heinous crime against children must receive (a) stiff penalty. I am a mother too. Children issues are close to my heart and the community for whom I served in the last 11 years can testify to this," she wrote, adding that this is why she supports the government's effort in reforming the death penalty law "that will guarantee justice while respecting the universal sanctity of life for every person - man, woman and child."
She acknowledged that the issue of the death penalty and its abolition is a deeply emotional one, both for the families of the victim of crimes and the accused, but the government must take a measured and methodical approach in pushing through this reform
"I was invited to officiate a forum and exhibition on the death penalty held in my constituency of Segambut. As a Member of Parliament, my views and stand on the proposed law reforms with respect to the death penalty is one that my constituents deserve to know. This proposal is one of the many reforms promised in Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto and as a lawmaker, I cannot shy away.
"At the forum, I acknowledged the deeply emotional and personal nature of this issue, both for the families of the victim of crimes and the accused.
"I explained that is the reason why the government is taking a measured and methodical approach in pushing through this reform, and the duty lies with the government to not be guided purely by emotions in the decision-making process.
"We must acknowledge and empathise as lawmakers, but we must not legislate for emotions' sake. I am of the personal view that there are fundamental principles which must be expressed, of justice and of the sanctity of life which will allow us to legislate with compassion and with fairness," Hannah Yeoh wrote.
Hannah said that the issue of death penalty abolition requires some urgent clarity, adding that it is "something which even the media and politicians have not done well in explaining to the people"
"The promise made in the election manifesto is to revoke mandatory death by hanging.
"Many people have mistakenly broadened this to include all life imprisonment sentences which is grossly inaccurate. The new government wants to abolish mandatory sentencing. Which means that judges are not forced to send those who are convicted of serious crimes to their deaths.
"Judges must be given the discretion to not exercise the punishment by hanging option, which in a large majority of cases will be reduced to life imprisonment. Judges will still have the option of the gallows for heinous crimes, such as the murder of children.
In her Facebook post, the Deputy Minister, however, didn't address whether she ignored the murdered teen's mother or not during when she was the Subang Jaya state assemblyman in 2013
The mother had called out Hannah in a Facebook post on Monday, 4 March.
"When my child went missing, I spent a lot of time looking for her at the Kelana Jaya LRT station but to no avail. At the time, someone gave me Hannah's number and advised me to ask for her help," the mother wrote.
"She didn't pick up my call. She messaged me to only reach her through text, but she never got back to me when I needed help the most," she added.