©The Star (Used by permission)
by LIM WEY WEN
PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry wants a softer stance on those arrested for attempting to commit suicide, said its minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said Section 309 of the Penal Code, which carries a one–year jail term or fine, or both, for those convicted of suicide attempts, was no longer relevant.
“If jailing a person will prevent him from committing suicide, then we should do it. However, we are not addressing the problem and treating him so he will not attempt to commit suicide in the future,” Liow said.
Although the law is rarely invoked, Somalian student Ibrahima Oumar Viallo, 25, was sentenced in May to two months’ jail by a magistrate’s court for attempting suicide, sparking renewed calls for its repeal.
It was reported that the Malaysia Law Reform Committee had begun reviewing the law last month.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong was quoted as saying that the committee had been instructed to look into a review of Section 309.
Statistics from the National Suicide Registry Malaysia showed an increase of suicide cases from 290 in 2008 to 328 and 425 in 2009 and 2010 respectively, and the ministry has recently launched a five–year National Strategic and Action Plan for suicide prevention.