By Nicole Chang
At the crack of dawn today (July 18), two Singaporeans convicted of drug trafficking were hanged.
The executions of Tang Hai Liang, 36, and Foong Chee Peng, 48, mark the end of the moratorium that had been in place since July 2011, when Parliament started a review of the mandatory death penalty laws.
The resultant changes to the mandatory death penalty regime came into force in January 2013, and all persons already sentenced to death up to this point were given the opportunity to be considered for re-sentencing under new the new legislation. Both Tang and Foong did not wish to be part of the re-sentencing process
The executions were carried out despite a letter by The Singapore Working Group on the Death Penalty to the President, urging for a stay of execution. The letter was emailed to the President yesterday (July 17), the night before the executions took place.
In their letter, the coalition of anti-death penalty NGOs drew attention to an ongoing application by another drug offender seeking to challenge the validity of section 33B of the Misuse of Drugs Act – to be heard before the Court of Appeal on Aug 18.
Damien Chng, co-founder of campaign group We Believe in Second Chances, pointed out that Tang and Foong’s executions should not have been ordered.
“The executions should not have been ordered given that there are so many unaddressed problems with the death penalty law in Singapore.
“Furthermore, a constitutional challenge against the law is pending in the Supreme Court which might have an effect on the sentences of the two individuals.”
A statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs said: “As at 1 January 2013, when the new statutory provisions came into force, there were 35 persons awaiting capital punishment, 28 for drug offences and seven for murder.
“Since then, one had his conviction set aside by the Court of Appeal and one passed away from natural causes. Two persons elected not to be considered for re-sentencing under the new statutory provisions and have had their sentences carried out on 18 July 2014.”
Out of the remaining 31, 9 have been re-sentenced to life imprisonment and caning where relevant. The other 22 are at various stages of appeal, resentencing or clemency processes, or have filed other legal challenges. Since Jan 1, 2013, one other person has been sentenced to capital punishment.
To view The Singapore Working Group on the Death Penalty’s statement in full: http://secondchances.asia/statement-on-executions-carried-out-on-the-18th-of-july-2014/