SINGAPORE — Foreigners who commit crimes here should not expect to be treated any differently from locals, said Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday (21 August), in relation to the case of British DJ-drug trafficker Yuen Ye Ming.
Yuen, 31, had received the maximum 24 strokes of the cane at Changi Prison on Wednesday (19 August).
The same day, the British High Commission in Singapore said the United Kingdom “strongly opposes corporal punishment in all circumstances and condemns its use in this case”.
In its statement on Friday, the MHA said, “Singapore respects the sovereign right of other States to determine their own legal systems, taking into account their own values and context, and expects the same in return.”
The ministry also noted the background of Yuen’s case. He was first arrested on 5 August 2016 for possession and use of methamphetamine. He was found guilty on 17 January 2018 and released on court bail, before a sentence was meted out.
But about a month later, he was again nabbed for drug offences – this time for sale of not less than 69.74g of cannabis and possession of not less than 60.61g of cannabis intended for sale. He also possessed and consumed methamphetamine again.
On 18 July 2018, Yuen pleaded guilty to his new drug charges. He received a total jail term of 20 years along with 24 strokes of the cane on 1 August 2018.
His appeal against the sentence was dismissed by the High Court on 5 November 2018. On 19 August last year, the Court of Appeal also upheld the sentence.
Yuen later unsuccessfully filed five petitions for clemency. Last Wednesday (12 August), the apex court dismissed his bid to launch another appeal before it. His caning was then carried out at Changi Prison.
MHA noted that before caning is carried out, an offender must first be certified fit by a prison doctor. The punishment is also carried out by trained prison officers “with strict procedures and supervision in place to ensure the safe and proper administration of caning”. Under the law, a prison doctor must also be present during the caning, the ministry said.
“Singapore has a zero-tolerance policy against drug-related offences, with strict enforcement and severe penalties. These laws apply equally to all in Singapore, regardless whether the offender is a local or foreigner,” it added.
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