On 3rd November 2006, Singapore hangs, 24 years old, Malaysian Migrant Worker, Took Leng How for murder. The death penalty is a "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment."
Singapore law mandates the death penalty upon conviction for murder, with no discretion in sentencing being allowed to the trial judges.
The death penalty is a "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment." It violates the right to life.
The abolition of the death penalty is essential for the protection of this right to life.
Think Centre's call to right to life with reference to the capital punishment is guided by the desirability of the abolition of the death penalty which has been expressed on numerous occasions by the UN General Assembly, the Human Rights Committee, the Economic and Social Council and Security Council [in its resolutions 808 (1993) of 22 February 1993 and 955 (1994) of 8 November 1994]
Singapore hangs Malaysian Migrant Worker Took Leng How on Friday morning, 3 November 2006.
During Took's trial, one of the three appeal court judges had doubt on the cause of death. Justice Kan Ting Chiu stated "My conclusion is that the appellant's conviction for murder should be set aside, as there was reasonable doubt whether she died as a result of the fit. In place of that, the appellant should be convicted for an offence of voluntarily causing hurt as corroborated by the post-mortem findings." reported in the The Straits Times on 26 January 06.
The dissenting judge, Justice Kan Ting Chiu, held the opinion that Took should be charged with the lesser offence of "voluntarily causing hurt" rather than murder. The penalty for "voluntarily causing hurt" is one year in jail plus Singapore dollar $1,000 fine.
In the case of Took, why the benefit of the doubt was not given to him? Took surrendered himself which counted for nothing during the trial. He made a choice to stand trial that cost his life!!
If the death penalty is not mandatory for the murder, the dissenting opinion of Justice Kan plus Took's surrender, it would have led to a more appropriate sentence - less severe punishment.
October 23, 2006, Took Leng How plea for clemency was rejected by the President on the advice of the cabinet.
Some 34,000 people had signed a petition against Took's death sentence, submitted to President Nathan.
The 23-year-old Malaysian was sentenced to death in August 2005 after he was found guilty of the murder of eight-year-old Chinese national Huang Na in October 2004.
In January, the Court of Appeals dismissed Took's appeal against the death penalty. But it was was split decision - the dissenting judge stated that the prosecution failed to prove conclusively that Took had smothered Huang Na. One pyschiatist found Took to be suffering from Schizphrenia.
Former Chief Justice Yong Pung How and Justice Chao Hick Tin had dismissed Took's appeal against the death sentence but Justice Kan Ting Chiu had disagreed with them. The Court of Appeals carried through the decision on the two-to-one majority.
Sources and Relevant Links:
M'sian Took Leng How Hanged This Morning
03 November 2006
Took did not look like a man about to die
4 November 2006
'Took picked own obit photo'
05 November 2006
death penalty: SAVE THE LIFE OF TOOK LENG HOW
10 April 2006
Think Centre No to Death Penalty: Call for Moratorium
Think Centre Think Centre Calls for a moratorium on Death Penalty
Criminal law process to change
21 October 2006
Why tie our judges' hands with mandatory sentences?
21 October 2006