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Malaysia: Fear of imminent execution

, N° d'index: ASA 28/004/1997

Lim Meng Kui, driver, Teh Chai Huat, welder, Ooi Teck Chye, fishmonger, Ismail Samsuddin, farmer, Mustafa Yop Samsuddin, rubber tapper: The five men named above face imminent execution after their appeals against their death sentences were rejected by the Federal Court in Kuala Lumpur on 5 March 1997. They were sentenced in separate cases for firearms and drug offences.

EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 28/04/97
EXTRA 39/97 Fear of Imminent Execution 21 March 1997
MALAYSIALim Meng Kui, aged 34, driver
Teh Chai Huat, aged 36, welder
Ooi Teck Chye, aged 46, fishmonger
Ismail Samsuddin, aged 44, farmer
Mustafa Yop Samsuddin, aged 50, rubber tapper
The five men named above are facing imminent execution following the rejection
of their appeals by the Federal Court in Kuala Lumpur on 5 March 1997. Their
only hope for commutation now lies with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the King
of Malaysia and the Supreme Head of State).
Lim Meng Kui was sentenced to death on 28 September 1988 after being convicted
by the Kuala Lumpur High Court of possession of firearms. He was charged under
section 57(1)(a) of the Internal Security Act 1960. Teh Chai Huat was sentenced
to death on 9 December 1988 by the Kuala Lumpur High Court after also being
under charged under the Internal Security Act with possession of firearms.
Ooi Teck Chye was sentenced to death on 11 September 1991 after being convicted
by the Kuala Lumpur High Court of possession of heroin. Ismail Samsuddin and
Mustafa Yop Samsuddin were both sentenced to death on 21 March 1987 after being
convicted by the Ipoh High Court of possession of cannabis.
A sixth man had his death sentence reduced to a five-year term of imprisonment
by the Federal Court. He had been convicted by the Kuala Lumpur High Court
on 25 August 1989 of possession of cannabis.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Until recently Amanesty International was unaware of the true number of
executions in Malaysia as official statistics were not made public. However,
the authorities revealed recently that between 1970 and March 1996, a total
of 349 people were executed. Since 1993 Amnesty International has recorded
at least 43 new death sentences, although the real figure may be higher. The
number of people under sentence of death in July 1996 was 245.
Under Malaysia’s strict anti-drug laws the death penalty is mandatory for
trafficking in a number of specified drugs. According to the Dangerous Drugs
Act, any person found in possession of at least 15 grams of heroin, 1,000 grams
of opium or 200 grams of cannabis is presumed, unless the contrary can be proven,
to be trafficking in the drug. Amnesty International has critized the Dangerous
Drugs Act because it places the onus on the accused to prove their innocence,
rather than on the state to prove their guilt. This contravenes a basic
principle of Malaysian jurisprudence, as well as international legal safeguards
which stipulate that the accused has the right to be presumed innocent until
proven guilty.
The death penalty is also mandatory in Malaysia for murder and certain firearms
offences.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate
form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of the most
fundamental of human rights, the right to life. The death penalty is inherently
unjust and arbitrary, however heinous the crime for which it is provided.
It is often imposed on those with fewer resources available for their defence,
or whose social status has made them vulnerable to unfair conviction. The
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risk of error in applying the death penalty is inescapable, yet the penalty
is irrevocable. Moreover, studies have overwhelmingly concluded that there
is no reliable evidence that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on crime.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English or your own language:
- urging the King to commute the sentences passed on Lim Meng Kuui, Teh Chai
Huat, Ooi Teck Chye, Ismail Samsuddin and Mustafa Yop Samsuddin;
- expressing unconditional opposition to the death penalty as a violation of
the most fundamental of human rights, the right to life;
- calling for all other death sentences to be commuted;
- recognizing the need to combat drug abuse and firearms offences, but
emphasizing that the death penalty has not been proved to have a greater
deterrent effect than other punishments and appealing to the authorities to
find a more humane way of tackling these crimes.
APPEALS TO:
Yang di-Pertuan Agong [King of Malaysia]
DYMM Tuanku Jaafar Ibni
Al-Marhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman
Istana Negara
50500 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Faxes: +603 230 4646
Telegrams: Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Salutation: Your Majesty
COPIES TO:
Prime Minister:
Dato’ Seri Dr Mahatir bin Mohamad
Prime Minister’s Department
Jalan Dato’ Onn
50502 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Faxes: +603 298 4172
and to diplomatic representatives of Malaysia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 18 April 1997.

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