KUALA LUMPUR (UPDATED) - Malaysia's Cabinet has agreed to abolish the death penalty, a senior minister said Thursday, in a decision hailed by rights groups.
Capital punishment in Malaysia is currently mandatory for murder, kidnapping, possession of firearms and drug trafficking, among other crimes.
The penalty is exclusively carried out by hanging in Malaysia -- a legacy of British colonial rule.
Communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo confirmed the cabinet had resolved to end the death penalty.
"I hope the law will be amended soon," he told AFP.
The government decided to scrap capital punishment because there had been strong domestic opposition to the practice.
The decision was welcomed by rights advocates.
"The death penalty is barbarous and unimaginably cruel," N. Surendran, an advisor with the Lawyers for Liberty rights group said in a statement.
Once the death penalty is scrapped, Malaysia will have the moral authority to fight for the lives of Malaysians facing death sentences abroad, he added.
Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Charles Jose, meanwhile, said it would be "more prudent to wait for the law that would be passed".
"The proposal to abolish the death penalty will still have to go through the legislative process. If ever it becomes a law, definitely there are Filipinos who will benefit from it," he said in a statement. --With a report from Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News