LONDON: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Monday (Sep 24) that corrupt people must be punished, but did not think that it had reached a stage in Malaysia where the corrupt should be sentenced to life in prison.
"They (corrupt individuals) might be jailed. How long they need to be jailed depends on the extent of the corruption, and I think different levels of corruption need different punishments," he said.
"But we have not reached the stage of having to sentence people for life."
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Mahathir was responding to a question on whether he supported the death penalty for corrupt leaders after he delivered a lecture titled The Challenge of Good Governance in the Muslim World on Monday at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.
Those found guilty of corruption by the courts in Malaysia would be sentenced to jail, he said.
"RESPECT THE VOTE"
In his lecture, which touched on Muslim nations and the democratic system, Mahathir said Muslim countries adopting the democratic system needed to spend more time understanding the workings of democracy.
"If you don't understand that in a democracy the vote is powerful, then you cannot have a democratic system," he said.
In some Muslim countries, the transition to the democratic system brought disaster to those countries, he said.
"Every time they try for a democratic system, there will be fighting among them and the countries can be almost destroyed."
In a democratic system, he said, people chose the government and supported the government for a period of time.
However, in some Muslim countries, they could not wait for the term to be over and wanted to change immediately after the election, added Mahathir.
"It’s time for them to respect the vote and set up a government which uses power for the betterment of the country and people," he said.
Mahathir said Malaysia was a Muslim country which adopted the democratic system, although only 60 per cent of its population was Muslim.
The system worked because the people in Malaysia seemed to find that while they had their rulers, they could also have a democratic system, he said.
"We in Malaysia don't like violence. We don't overthrow a government until the government changes by itself," he said, drawing laughter from the floor.
On his maiden visit to the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, in 1996, Mahathir delivered a lecture titled Islam, the Misunderstood Religion.
The centre, since its founding in 1985, has invited many leading figures to speak on matters related to the Islamic world. At its new premises, the centre has a number of dedicated lecture spaces, including the Malaysia auditorium, to allow for further development of its programmes.