Pakatan government to make suicide legal

(The Star) – The government is moving towards decriminalising suicide to address the rising number of such attempts nationwide, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (pic).

She said that herself and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad had stressed upon the need for the government to review Section 309 of the Penal Code, which deals with attempt to commit suicide.

The duo brought up the decriminalisation of suicide during an intra-agency meeting on mental health issues that she chaired recently, said Dr Wan Azizah.

“I was made to understand that the Attorney-General’s Chambers is studying and looking into the existing laws on the issue.

“After the study is completed, I will bring this matter to the Law Minister (Datuk Liew Vui Keong),” Dr Wan Azizah told reporters at the National Skills Development Centre in Serendah here on Monday (Oct 21).

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, agreed with the recent call by social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye for lawmakers to speak up on mental health issues.

Speaking to Bernama on Sunday (Oct 20), Lee also urged the government to abolish laws that criminalises suicide attempts.

“I very much agree, because it is an issue and the suicide rates are rising, so we want to move to decriminalise suicide,” said Dr Wan Azizah.

When asked if the amendments could be brought up in the current Parliament meeting, which ends on Dec 5, Dr Wan Azizah said that more evaluation was needed on the matter, although the government did not want any lags.

On a separate matter, Dr Wan Azizah said that distribution of materials or publication by outside parties to educational institutions, including schools, required the prior approval of the Education Ministry.

She was asked to comment on the unapproved distribution of a comic book, titled Belt and Road Initiative for Win Winism to schools recently.

Earlier, Dr Wan Azizah launched the Digital Space (Computer Lab) programme, a strategic collaboration between Malaysia Airports and the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

The programme saw 13 units of computer being contributed to the training centre’s computer lab and will benefit more than 50 trainees at the National Skills Development Centre in Serendah.

The all-male trainees aged between aged between 12 to 18 are also residents of children’s institutions that are under the Welfare Department’s supervision.

Dr Wan Azizah said that the RM80mil allocation announced in the Budget 2020 to upgrade facilities under the Welfare Department, including old folks homes and children’s homes will be distributed fairly.

“Currently, the Welfare Department and the Ministry is compiling comprehensive information and vetting the needs of each institution in order to avoid overlapping allocations,” she said.