Sarawakian Kho Jabing, 31, was found guilty of killing a Chinese construction worker with a tree branch in 2008 during a robbery attempt. He was sentenced to death in 2010. Kho’s sister, Jumai Kho said on 13 May that she received a letter from the Singapore Prison Service on Thursday (12 May) that the execution was scheduled for May 20.
Following revisions to Singapore’s mandatory death penalty laws, the East Malaysian’s sentence handed down in 2010 was revised by the the High Court. It sentenced him to life and 24 strokes of the cane instead. The Attorney General’s Office challenged the decision before the Court of Appeal, which subsequently sentenced Jabing to death in a 3-2 majority decision earlier this year.
One High Court judge and two Judges of Appeal had not believed that the death penalty was an appropriate punishment for Jabing Kho, as they felt that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that he had exhibited a “blatant disregard for human life”.
Activists who are campaigning for the abolishment of death penalty have claimed that the announcement of execution came as a surprise not only to the family, but also to them. “We had been under the impression that the authorities would allow his lawyer to submit a fresh clemency appeal on his behalf after the criminal motion filed in late 2015 was dismissed in April this year,” the activists said in a statement.
Jabing’s lawyer, Chandra Mohan K Nair, had sent President Tony Tan a holding letter informing him of the lawyer’s intention to file a new clemency petition. He had been in the process of drafting it when the execution was announced.
On 13 May 2016, Jabing’s lawyer received a letter from the President saying that he would be willing to consider a clemency petition if it is filed, but will not be postponing the scheduled execution.
The activists are worried that the the execution of Jabing would be carried out hastily, before the Cabinet has sufficient time to consider the clemency petition and advise the President accordingly.
President Tony Tan had previously considered a clemency application for Jabing, but rejected it in October 2015.
His lawyer then appealed to the five-judge Court of Appeal in Nov 2015. The Court extended the stay of execution for Kho Jabing, pending the delivery of their judgment concerning his application for his case to be reviewed by them a second time. This second appeal was dismissed in April 2016.
Sarawak’s Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem, said that his state government had tried its best to help Jabing. He said he had written to Singapore’s Ambassador to Malaysia and that the federal government also did its best to appeal to the Singapore authorities.
“We have tried the best we can but it has failed… there is nothing more we can do,” he added.
Commenting on the scheduled execution, lawyer Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss noted in her Facebook page that there are strong grounds to grant clemency to Jabing because the Appeal Court’s decision was not a unanimous one.
Saying that there is hardly any time to file a clemency petition, she asked “why the rush to get on with the hanging?”
Send in your scoop to email@example.com