Statement by Chairman of the Campaign to Save the 14-Year-Old Condemned, Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, at a Press Conference held at 63-D Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur, officially announcing the start of the Campaign. The Conference is held on Wednesday, 14th Sept. 1977 at 12 p.m.
DAP Launches Nation-Wide Mass Signature Campaign to Remove the 14-Year-Old Condemned from the Death Cell
This Press Conference has been called to officially launch the nation-wide mass signature campaign to remove the 14-year-old condemned from the death cell in Penang Prisons to a Juvenile Centre, pending appeal.
I have with me the parents of the condemned boy, Mr. and Mrs. Lim Thuan Heng, the counsel for the boy, Sdr. Karpal Singh, who as DAP State Assemblyman for Alor Star is also Vice Chairman of this Campaign, Sdr. P. Pattoo, DAP National Organising Secretary and National Secretary of this campaign, and Sdr. Yusuf Badur, National Assistant Secretary of this Campaign.
Malaysians will not easily forget the date of August 25, 1977 when a 14-year-old Form One boy from Heng He High School, Penang, was sentenced to death under the Internal Security Act for having a pistol and ammunition.
Malaysians of all races and ages were shocked and revolted that in Malaysia, which boasts of being a modern, civilized nation, a 14-year-old boy can be sentenced to death for having a pistol and ammunition, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the possession.
The sentence highlighted the iniquity and repressive nature of the whole armoury of Internal Security Act laws and regulations which have been enacted in the country, which right-thinking Malaysians have opposed, and which we in the DAP had inside Parliament vigorously fought to repeal.
What shocked the Malaysian conscience was not only that a 14-year-old boy could be condemned to death in the Year 1977, but that there was no differentiation in severity of punishment between a boy found in possession of a pistol and ammunition and say, a person who had killed the persons, for both would have got a death sentence.
These ISA laws and regulations makes a mockery of Malaysia’s belief in the Rule of Law, as the accused stands virtually condemned to death even before the trial begins as the rules of evidence and procedure weigh heavily against him in the scales of justice.
Since August 25, Malaysia’s claim to a place in the international community of civilized nations has become suspect,
Early this month, on his return from the Commonwealth Law Ministers’ Conference in Winnipeg, Canada, the Law Minister and Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Yusof, described the case as “unfortunate” and that a more appropriate sentence for a boy of that age would be a “few years at the Henry Gurney Rehabilitation School.”
Tan Sri Kadir Yusof also said that the case had not been referred to him first before it was committed to the High Court.
This was in direct contrast to his undertaking to the nation when he tried to pacify opposition to the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations in 1975 that he would personally study and process each and every case to be tried under the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975.
This is indeed a serious blunder, for it has unnecessarily condemned a 14-year-old boy to death. Even if he should eventually be pardoned, the boy would have a ‘living death’ having to pass his whole life in prison. In other countries, such grave blunders would results in the resignation of the Minister concerned.
But in Malaysia, despite the admission of this ‘blunder’ and the view that a more appropriate sentence for the boy would be “ a few years at the Henry Gurney Rehabilitation School”, the Attorney-General has done nothing within his power to mitigate the terrible consequences of death sentence which his Ministry of Department had blunderingly caused the boy.
Since his conviction, the condemned boy has been put in the ‘death cell’ in the Penang Prisons, when it is completely within the Attorney-General’s power to have the boy removed from the ‘death cell’ t a juvenile centre, especially as the Penang Prisons has not been gazette as a centre for the detention of juveniles.
The boy’s counsel, Sdr. Karpal Singh, had cabled the Prime Minister to appeal for the boy to be removed from the ‘death cell’. I have myself cabled the Attorney-General, in response to his statement that the appropriate sentence for the boy is a few years in Henry Gurney’s School, to remove the condemned boy from the death cell. Yesterday, I also sent telegram to the Prime Minister, Dato Hussein Onn, urging his intervention to get the condemned boy out of the ‘death cell’.
All this have been of no avail. I do not understand why those in government are so hard-hearted, insensitive and so devoid of the basic feelings of humanity, that they are unmoved by the prospect of a ‘living death’ by a 14-year-old Form One boy in a death cell.
This Campaign to Save the 14-year-old Condemned to get him removed from the ‘death cell’ is not only a campaign to save the boy’s soul, it is a campaign to save Malaysia’s soul.
I call on all Malaysians, of all races and ages, to come forward to sign, and to help in collecting more signatures, for “The Petition by the People of Malaysia to the Prime Minister, Dato Hussein Onn, for the removal of the 14-year-old condemned from the Penang Prison’s death cell to a Juvenile Court.”
This Petition to the Prime Minister reads:
“Dato Hussein Onn,
Yang Amat Berhormat,
WE, THE PEOPLE OF MALAYSIA,
EXPRESS SHOCK AND REVULSION that a 14-year-old Form One pupil from Heng He High School, Penang, should be charge under the Internal Security Act, for having a pistol and ammunition, which makes death sentence mandatory on conviction;
ECPRESS FURTHER SHOCK AND REVULSION at the death sentence passed on the boy in the Penang High Court on 25th August 1977;
EXPRESS FURTHER SHOCK AND REVULSION at the condemnation of the boy in the ‘death cell’ of the Penang Prisons since his conviction, which marks the beginning of his ‘mental death’;
URGE AND APPEAL TO YOU to administer law and regulations with compassion and humanity, and to remove the 14-year-ols condemned from the death cell to a juvenile centre so that the 14-year-old condemned does not degenerate into a ‘human vegetable’ without any hope of redemption.”
Malaysians who wish to help in collecting signatures can approach any one of the members of the National Committee of the DAP Campaign to Save the 14-Year-Old Condemned, namely:
Chairman: Lim Kit Siang, 77 Road 20/9, Paramount Garden, Petaling Jaya; Tel: PJ 561631; KL: 21707; Malacca 5244;
Vice Chairman: Ibrahim Singgeh, Kg. Sekolah Banir; Tel: Temoh (Perak) 210.
Yeap Ghim Guan, 73-C Tanjung Tokong, Penang; or Hong Kong Bank Building, Butterworth: Tel: 333093 (Penang)
Karpal Singh, 1562 Room 3, Jalan Kota, Alor Star (Tel: 721196); or Penang Tel: 29558.
Secretary: P. Pattoo, A Kampar Road, Ipoh, tel: 513248; or Gopeng, 988275
Assistant Secretaries: YusofB adar Tel: KL 662734
Chan Teck Chan Tel: Malacca 60100
Treasurer: Tai Sin Piao tel: KL 735696
Members: Lee Kaw Tel: Kluang 933
Salleh Nak hoda Hitam: Tel: Ipoh 511837
Hu Sepang: Tel: Seremban 74172
Sdri. Loke Swee Chin
State Committees are in the final stages of formation and will be announced in the next few days. Members of the public can also get books of petition from the State Committee members.
The national mass signature campaign starts of today, and beginning tomorrow, for Kuala Lumpur, tha DAP office at 63-D Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur, will be open for concerned Malaysians to come and append their signatures to the petition to the Prime Minister.
This is the time for all Malaysians to demonstrate their concern in an active manner, not only about the fate of the 14-year-old condemned, but also about their disgust and revulsion at a whole series of internal security laws which is capable of such wickedness and inhumanity, injustice and iniquity.
This Campaign to Save the 14-year-old Condemned will not be confined to Malaysia, but will be international in character, for we want to arouse international public opinion to help complement this national campaign.
There is however one snag. To mobilise international opinion at the shortest possible time, we need substantial funds, to cable and telephone civil rights and human rights organisations throughout the world. I urge Malaysians with conscience and idealism to contribute generously to this ‘Campaign to save the 14-Year-Old Condemned.’
Contributions should be crossed cheque or money orders and made out to “Campaign to Save 14-Year-Old Condemned”, and sent to
Sdr. Tai Sin Piau,
77 Road 20/9,
or to me, at the same address in Petaling Jaya.
In 1968, Malaysians of conscience and humanity expressed in no uncertain terms, through their mass participation in the national mass signature campaign launched by the DAP to save the 13 Youths convicted of consorting with Indonesian Confrontationists from the gallows, their concern for compassion, clemency and humanity as the quality of a civilized society. As a result, the 13 condemned youths were spared death at the gallows.
Now, Malaysians of conscience can against re-assert their regard for the qualities of compassion, clemency and humanity as durable elements in our values and life, and with common united efforts, we can save not only the soul of the 14-year-old condemned, but also save the soul of Malaysia.