Two men hanged in first executions here since moratorium on executions was imposed in July 2011

SINGAPORE - Two convicted drug traffickers were hanged on Friday morning at the Changi Prison Complex, in the first executions carried out here since a moratorium on executions was imposed in July 2011.

Singaporeans Tang Hai Liang, 36, and Foong Chee Peng, 48, were both sentenced to death after being found guilty of trafficking in heroin. Tang had brought in 89.55g of the drug and Foong 40.23g, higher than the 15g limit that triggers the death penalty.

Both men had been considered for re-sentencing, following changes to the mandatory death penalty laws that kicked in in January last year, but had chosen not to go through the process.

A statement from the Central Narcotics Bureau on Friday said they had appeared before a High Court assistant registrar to indicate their preference, adding that "they understood the consequences of their respective decisions". The bureau did not elaborate on why they had not wanted to go through re-sentencing.

Both men were represented by lawyers throughout the process, said the CNB statement. Tang and Foong had also been given the opportunity to petition for clemency from the President, added a CNB spokesman, but they did not want to do so.

Eventually, Tang's family had sent in an unsigned petition on his behalf. He later said that he did not wish to appeal for clemency, adding that the petition was submitted without his knowledge. The petition was turned down.

The two men's executions were the first since changes to the mandatory death penalty laws were passed by Parliament in November 2012. A stay of execution was ordered in July 2011 when the Government started reviewing the mandatory death penalty.

After the laws came into force in January last year, 35 people awaiting capital punishment - 28 for drug offences and seven for murder - were given the chance to be considered for re-sentencing under the new regime.

Since then one man has had his conviction set aside by the Court of Appeal, and one had died of natural causes, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement. Another nine had applied to the courts for their sentences to be reviewed and have been re-sentenced to life imprisonment and caning where relevant, the MHA added.

The Attorney-General's Chamber has filed appeals against the new sentences in two of these cases.

The other 22 persons who were on death row when the laws were changed are at various stages of the appeal, re-sentencing or the clemency processes. Some have filed other legal challenges.

Under the laws that came into force in January last year, judges will have the discretion to impose a life sentence instead of death for certain instances of murder and drug trafficking.

For drug trafficking, the change applies only to cases in which two specific, tightly defined conditions are met: that is, the trafficker is only a courier who has either cooperated with the authorities in a substantive way, or who is mentally disabled.