KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has prepared a memorandum to ask the Cabinet to implement a moratorium on the prosecution and conviction of suicide attempts.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the memorandum prepared by MOH’s disease control division, together with input from the legal advisor’s office and the medical development division, was supported by MOH’s top management and is currently under review by MOH’s Cabinet unit.
“The memorandum asks the Cabinet to immediately approve a moratorium on prosecutions and convictions under Section 309 of the Penal Code for cases of attempted suicide until Section 309 is repealed or amended by Parliament,” Khairy told the Dewan Rakyat today in his winding-up speech at the policy-level debate of Budget 2022.
He added that the memorandum will be tabled at Cabinet for approval after it is reviewed by MOH’s Cabinet unit and sent to other ministries for consideration.
Section 309 of the Penal Code punishes attempted suicide with maximum one-year imprisonment, or a fine, or both.
Khairy also announced that allocations for mental health programmes, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in mental health support, and psychosocial hotlines increased to RM70 million for 2022, from RM24.6 million allocated this year.
MOH will receive RM40 million from the 2022 budget, while the remaining RM30 million will be channelled to the Women, Family and Community Development and Higher Education Ministries.
This year, MOH allocated RM4.4 million for NGOs that promote and advocate mental health, and provide counselling services.
“With an increase in allocation as stated, the number of NGOs that will receive allocations is expected to increase, depending on the programmes that will be run,” Khairy said.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii noted that the proposed Budget 2022 did not allocate an increase in positions for psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
“Of course, in our National Mental Health Strategic Plan, there are plans to increase the number of positions, especially clinical psychologists and psychiatry specialists, in hospitals and public health clinics,” Khairy replied.
“This relates to MOH’s efforts to obtain more permanent positions overall for our doctors.”