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.
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
The death penalty is also mandatory in Malaysia for murder and certain firearms
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