Family of Sarawak man Kho Jabing, who is on death row, pleads with Singapore to spare his life

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The family of Sarawakian Kho Jabing is pleading with Singapore to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment, claiming he is not a bad person.

Jabing, 31, who is from Ulu Baram, Sarawak, faces the gallows for killing a Chinese construction worker with a tree branch back in 2008 during a robbery attempt.

His mother Lenduk Ak Baling, 54, said that her son was not a bad person and had regretted his actions deeply.

"From the time he was born until he was in school he never fought with his friends, teachers or anyone else… He is not a bad person," she said, sobbing uncontrollably at a press conference to highlight the case on Friday (Nov 13).

Ms Lenduk said that she hadn't been able to sleep or eat properly since hearing that her son was going to be executed.

Jabing was scheduled to be executed on Nov 6, but received a stay the day before, after his lawyer filed a motion raising points of law about the way the case was handled.

The case will be heard by Singapore's Court of Appeal on Nov 23.

Jabing's sister Jumai Kho, 27, said that her family was initially shocked to learn that he was involved in the case.

"He isn't a bad person… he is loving and always took care of us. I hope Singapore won't give him the death penalty… He is the only brother I have," she said, adding that Jabing was drunk and influenced by his friends when the incident occurred.

At the press conference, several activist groups called on Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam to grant clemency to Jabing.

We Believe in Second Chances founder Kirsten Han said that the group was troubled that Jabing would be executed for a simple majority decision by the Court of Appeal.

"No intent to kill was ever found, nor was a clear sequence of events established. The irreversible nature of the death penalty leaves absolutely no room for error," she said.

Jabing was sentenced to death in 2010 but in August 2013, following revisions to Singapore's mandatory death penalty laws, the High Court sentenced him to life and 24 strokes of the cane instead.

The prosecution challenged the decision before the Court of Appeal, which again sentenced Jabing to death in a 3-2 majority decision earlier this year.

On Oct 19, Dr Tan rejected a clemency petition before a stay of execution by the Court of Appeal.