SINGAPORE. 34,000 PEOPLE SIGN PETITION AGAINST TOOK LENG HOW'S DEATH SENTENCE
May 11, 2006: the fate of convicted murderer Took Leng How will be known within three months, as a last-ditch effort to spare him from the gallows reaches the President. Some 34,000 people have signed a petition against Took's death sentence, due to be submitted to President Nathan.
The 23-year-old Malaysian was sentenced to death in August 2005 after he was found guilty of the murder of eight-year-old Chinese national Huang Na in October 2004 at the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, Singapore.
In January, the Court of Appeals dismissed Took's appeal against the death penalty. But his Penang-based family is holding on to the hope that Took could be spared and has been going around the country to collect signatures for the past four months.
The rare split decision of the Court of Appeals on Took's sentence could play a significant part. Former Chief Justice Yong Pung How and Justice Chao Hick Tin had dismissed Took's appeal against the death sentence but Justice Kan Ting Chiu had disagreed with them â the first time such a split had happened in 10 years.
Disagreeing with the actual cause of Huang Na's death, Justice Kan felt that Took should only be convicted of the offence of voluntarily causing hurt, which carries a maximum jail term of one year.
But the Court of Appeals carried through the decision on the two-to-one majority.
Despite this, Took's parents are hopeful that Justice Kan's words will have some weight when the clemency appeal reaches the President.
Records show that, since 1965, only six people sentenced to death have been granted clemency in Singapore. (Sources: Todayonline, 11/05/2006)