Malaysia studying ways to decriminalise suicide attempts: Minister

Malaysia studying ways to decriminalise suicide attempts: Minister

Minister in the Prime Minister´s Department Liew Vui Keong
Minister in the Prime Minister´s Department Liew Vui Keong. (Photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government, through the Attorney-General's Chambers, is studying possible amendments to laws related to suicide to address the increasing number of such attempts nationwide, a minister said on Tuesday (Oct 15).

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong said in Parliament that a review of the existing laws, including section 309 of the Penal Code, requires a detailed study and consultation with several stakeholders.

"The stakeholders involved include the Health Ministry; Women, Family and Community Development Ministry; Education Ministry; Communications and Multimedia Ministry; Youth and Sports Ministry; Royal Malaysia Police; the Fire and Rescue Department; Department of Islamic Development Malaysia; Befrienders Kuala Lumpur; and the Malaysian Psychiatric Association," he said during the ministers' question time. 

"The study is not only focused on Sections 309 of the Penal Code, Act 574 for attempted suicide but also includes Sections 305 and 306 for abetting suicide attempts," he added.

He said this in response to a question from Pakatan Harapan lawmaker Kevin Yii Lee Wuen who wanted an update on the government's progress in amending Section 309 of the Penal Code to decriminalise suicide attempts.  

The government, Liew added, was also studying and comparing laws for similar offences committed in other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Pakistan and India to examine the approach taken by these countries.

Responding to a supplementary question by Yii about the length of time to repeal these sections, Liew said the government has prepared a study paper to be distributed to the relevant stakeholders. 

Their feedback will be used to draft a comprehensive national strategy to address the problem.

"This Act has existed since before independence, hence the process of decriminalisation will take some time," he said.

"I hope that in the near future we will have laws that will not criminalise suicide attempts but instead seek a holistic solution to help those involved in such attempts."

Source: Bernama/ec(hm)