24 Apr 2006

Took Leng How (m) aged 22, Malaysian citizen


Urgent Action

AI Index: ASA 36/004/2006

UA 94/06
Death Penalty
19 April 2006


Took Leng How (m) aged 22, Malaysian citizen

Malaysian citizen Took Leng How, who was sentenced to death in August 2005, has had his final appeal rejected by the Court of Appeal. The President still has the power to grant clemency. Took Leng How's lawyers are currently preparing a clemency appeal: for maximum impact they have asked that all UA Network appeals should arrive by 11 May, before they submit the appeal to the President.

Took Leng How was sentenced to death for the October 2004 murder of an eight-year-old girl, Huang Na. In Singapore a murder conviction carries a mandatory death sentence.

A panel of three Court of Appeal judges rejected his appeal by two votes to one, in late January. The judge who voted against execution, Kan Ting Chiu, wrote in his dissenting opinion that there was "reasonable doubt whether the appellant caused the deceased's death by smothering her mouth and nose, or whether she died as a result of a fit." He concluded that Took Leng How "should be convicted for an offence of voluntarily causing hurt".

Took Leng How's family have reportedly gathered more than 30,000 signatures on a petition for clemency.


There is usually little public debate in Singapore about the death penalty, partly as a result of tight government controls on the press and civil society organisations. However, activists in the country claim the debate on the death penalty in 2005 was possibly the most prominent in four decades, after national and international campaigning for clemency for two men facing execution for drug-related offences, Shanmugam s/o Murugesu and Van Tuong Nguyen. (See UA 104/05, ASA 36/001/2005, 29 April 2005 and UA 279/05, ASA 36/003/2005, 24 October 2005, and follow-ups).

In his report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 24 March 2006, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, observed:

"Measures taken by the Government of Singapore suggest an attempt to suppress public debate about the death penalty in the country. For example, in April 2005, the Government denied a permit to an Amnesty International official to speak at a conference on the death penalty organized by political opposition leaders and human rights activists... If public opinion really is an important consideration for a country, then it would seem that the Government should facilitate access to the relevant information so as to make this opinion as informed as possible".

The UN Special Rapporteur has previously argued that the mandatory nature of the death sentence is a violation of international legal standards.

Singapore, with a population of just over four million, is believed to have the highest per capita execution rate in the world. More than 420 people have been executed since 1991, the majority for drug trafficking. The government has consistently maintained that the death penalty is not a human rights issue.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the most fundamental of human rights: the right to life. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and there is no escaping the risk of error, which can lead to the execution of an innocent person.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Use your own words to send appeals quickly

- urging the President to grant clemency to Took Leng How and commute his death sentence;
- urging the authorities to impose a moratorium on executions, with a view to complete abolition, in line with the April 2005 UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) resolution on the question of the death penalty;
- noting that the UNCHR has urged states which still maintain the death penalty not to impose it as a mandatory sentence;
- calling on the authorities to be transparent by making full statistics on death sentences and the background of those on death row regularly available to the public.


His Excellency S R Nathan
Office of the President
Istana, Orchard Road
Singapore 0922
Fax:011 65 6735 3135
Email: s_r_nathan@istana.gov.sg
Salutation:Your Excellency


His Excellency Mr Vanu Gopala MENON
High Commissioner for Singapore
c/o Permanent Mission to the U.N.
231 East 51st Street
New York, NY 10022, USA
Fax:(212) 826-2964

Lee Hsien Loong
Office of the Prime Minister
Istana Annexe, Orchard Road
Singapore 0923
Fax:011 65 6732 4627

Professor S. Jayakumar
Ministry of Law
100 High Street
The Treasury 08-02
Singapore 179434
Fax:011 65 6332 8842


merciless said...

just hang that bastard !! worthless scum .period... wait til someone do the same thing to ur daughter !!!

antipathy said...

well he is a child killer, so there is little sympathy, public or otherwise in this case.

But Amnesty Int'l has to do it and several people have to have this stand or else it will be deemed nonuniversalizable.

ycbi said...

Does not the fact that one of three appeal judges had resonable doubt meen nothing to both antipathy and merciless .How many more possibly innocent people will this world have to kill before there is change . Evan so no one for whatever reason has the right to take another persons life .

antipathy said...

well quite clearly there is a difference in values here, so it is something someone with a majoritarian outlook should understand. Anyway, the reason that the judge had reasonable doubt was not on whether Took, actually was responsible, but rather whether the action of tying her and gaggin her was responsible for her death from choking.
Again, the death penalty is practised here as a prophylactic rather than a determent, we don't see much child killers here. hope you understand.

Anonymous said...

What is Compassion? By D. Lama

What is Compassion? By D. Lama

"Let me first define what I mean by compassion. When you have pity or compassion for a very poor person, you are showing sympathy because he or she is poor; your compassion is based on altruistic considerations. On the other hand, love towards your wife, your husband, your children, or a close friend is usually based on attachment. When your attachment changes, your kindness also changes; it may disappear. This is not true love. Real love is not based on attachment, but on altruism. In this case your compassion will remain as a humane response to suffering as long as beings continue to suffer.

This type of compassion is what we must strive to cultivate in ourselves, and we must develop it from a limited amount to the limitless. Undiscriminating, spontaneous, and unlimited compassion for all sentient beings is obviously not the usual love that one has for friends or family, which is alloyed with ignorance, desire, and attachment. The kind of love we should advocate is this wider love that you can have even for someone who has done harm to you: your enemy.

The rationale for compassion is that every one of us wants to avoid suffering and gain happiness. This, in turn, is based on the valid feeling of '1', which determines the universal desire for happiness. Indeed, all beings are born with similar desires and should have an equal right to fulfill them. If I compare myself with others, who are countless, I feel that others are more important because I am just one person whereas others are many. Further, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition teaches us to view all sentient beings as our dear mothers and to show our gratitude by loving them all. For, according to Buddhist theory, we are born and reborn countless numbers of times, and it is conceivable that each being has been our parent at one time or another. In this way all beings in the universe share a family relationship.

Whether one believes in religion or not, there is no one who does not appreciate love and compassion. Right from the moment of our birth, we are under the care and kindness of our parents; later in life, when facing the sufferings of disease and old age, we are again dependent on the kindness of others. If at the beginning and end of our lives we depend upon others' kindness, why then in the middle should we not act kindly towards others?
The development of a kind heart (a feeling of closeness for all human beings) does not involve the religiosity we normally associate with conventional religious practice. It is not only for people who believe in religion, but is for everyone regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation. It is for anyone who considers himself or herself, above all, a member of the human family and who sees things from this larger and longer perspective. This is a powerful feeling that we should develop and apply; instead, we often neglect it, particularly in our prime years when we experience a false sense of security.

When faced with a calm and clear mind, problems can be successfully resolved. When, instead, we lose control over our minds through hatred, selfishness, jealousy, and anger, we lose our sense of judgement. Our minds are blinded and at those wild moments anything can happen, including war. Thus, the practice of compassion and wisdom is useful to all, especially to those responsible for running national affairs, in whose hands lie the power and opportunity to create the structure of world peace."

To read more:

Anonymous said...

i don't have anything against took, but how about the little's girl's family? hanging him won't bring her back. if not punished will took repent for his mistake though (assuming he is guilty)? and if he does not, will he be a threat to society or those around him?

maybe life imprisonment is sufficient. but maybe capital punishment is the best deterrant for others?

lee hsien tau said...

Desire to pin someone you hate with the lapel of mentally adjudicated diaspora?
Wish to pack somebody with a noose around his neck off to the nether world by attesting to his soundness of mind?
Where shrinks such as Dr George Fernandez are always available (including Christmas Day) to threaten them not to speak out of turn in court or face institutionalization?
You're in luck, old chap.
Buangkok Chalet has been upgraded to Buangkok Recreational Club.
Bookings for two weeks and above, to be made in advance. (Immediate bookings only with the Home Minister's consent.)
Bribes expected to allow in soya-sauce or cigarettes. Other items only on visiting days.

Anonymous said...

"What happen to the little girl's family?"

Look like they are having good lives now, using pek kim - donation from the public, to build an extra storey in their home.