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Singapore says Malaysia yet to plead clemency for drug mule

SINGAPORE, Wednesday 7 July 2010 (AFP) - Singapore has yet to receive a request for clemency from the Malaysian government for a drug trafficker facing the death penalty in the city-state, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman was quoted in a newspaper report Tuesday as saying Malaysia will plead with its neighbour to spare the life of convicted drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong.

Singapore's foreign ministry said in a statement it "is aware of the media reports on the issue" but that it "has yet to receive any request for clemency from the Malaysian government".

Yong faces the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging, after he was convicted in 2008 of trafficking 47 grams (1.65 ounces) of heroin into Singapore.

Both Malaysia and Singapore have tough anti-drug laws and rarely seek clemency for nationals facing drug charges in the other country.

But Anifah spoke out after Singapore's highest court in May rejected a death sentence appeal by Yong, who was 19 when he was caught.

"We sympathise with what has transpired and will do everything possible within our power or within diplomatic channels to resolve this," Anifah was quoted as saying by Malaysia's New Straits Times newspaper.

"He has one more avenue (of appeal) and I will be writing to the government of Singapore to plead for his clemency," Anifah said.

In Singapore, the death penalty is mandatory for anyone caught trafficking more than 15 grams of heroin, 30 grams of cocaine or 500 grams of cannabis.

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has said Singapore, with a population of nearly five million, has one of the highest per capita execution rates in the world. It put 420 people to death between 1991 and 2004.

Singapore officials have defended its use of the death penalty, saying capital punishment had deterred drug dealers from operating in the country and spared the lives of thousands of young people from drugs.

MySinchew 2010.07.07


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