Fabian Adiu Edwin – The first death-row inmate to get his sentence commuted under the new law
July 18, 2013, 2:14 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

On Tuesday 16 July 2013, Fabian Adiu Edwin became the first death-row inmate to get his sentence commuted after his case was reviewed at the High Court under the new amendments to the Penal Code and Misuse of Drugs Act, which allows judges to exercise judicial discretion by taking mitigating factors into consideration. In his judgment, High Court judge Chan Seng Onn considered Fabian’s young age at the time of his crime and his sub-normal intellect as mitigating factors and re-sentenced him to life imprisonment, plus 24 strokes of the cane.

Now I have been following this case since it was first reported in 2009. To a legal layperson like me, it was clearly a robbery gone wrong and in addition, Fabian’s sub-normal intellect should have granted him diminished responsibility. However when he was tried and sentenced in 2011, judge Chan disagreed with the Defence that Fabian should be tried with the consideration of diminished responsibility as the Defence could not produce evidences that he was suffering from an abnormality of mind at the time of the crime. Judge Chan also found inconsistency in Fabian’s statements when asked if he had intended to hurt the victim. Therefore, Fabian was found guilty of culpable homicide and was sentenced with the mandatory death sentence under 300(c) of the Penal Code. His co-accused, Ellary bin Puling, was found guilty of robbery with hurt and escaped being sentenced with the mandatory death sentence as judge Chan did not find common intent between Fabian and Ellary.

While I am genuinely grateful for the decision to overturn Fabian’s death sentence, I am dismayed by the fact that he will still have to face 24 strokes of the cane. In my opinion, caning constitutes torture and in a first world country like Singapore, we should be more enlightened about that fact and look towards alternative and humane ways of punishing and rehabilitating criminals. Furthermore, Fabian has been certified to be of sub-normal intellect and was said to be lowly educated, which could have contributed to his gross misconduct. Looking at all his circumstances, Fabian obviously falls within the marginalised. Do we want to become a country that treats the marginalised in such a barbaric and inhumane manner?

Well I think we seriously need to reflect on that.

Further reading:

Migrant workers facing capital punishment in Singapore: Use alternate sentence in place of death sentence

Court reviews sentence for murder under new laws


17 Comments so far
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Thank you Rachel. A thoughtful piece and I am so glad he got his sentence commuted. The Amnesty International report on the use of caning makes for grim reading. Maybe you should share that here also?

Comment by Kenneth Jeyaretnam

Thank you Kenneth, and yes, will share the report when I get back to the computer later in the evening.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Sorry Rachel but you can’t have your cake and eat it. The winner here was his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. The “rotan” is not torture but a deterrent for others to take note of. We cannot go soft on drug trafficking as is the case in Australia. I have seen the suffering of parents due to their young children contaminated mentally and physically by drugs. Let these bastards feel the pain of the cane….in perpetuity. Long live the “rotan” and hope it comes to Australia in the near future.

Comment by James Connor

Sorry James, but this is not a case of drug trafficking.

Caning is considered torture (in both international standards and in my personal opinion), and I stand strongly against it as much as I stand strongly against the death penalty.

However I appreciate the fact that there are many perspectives regarding this and I won’t seek to “force” you to think otherwise. Thanks for sharing, even though I disagree with you.


Comment by rachelabsinthe

What kind of deterrent would you suggest if caning is out?

Comment by Caleb

Isn’t life imprisonment already harsh enough?

Comment by rachelabsinthe

If caning is considered torture then why is it used as a deterrent in so many countries around the world? Serious crime must not go unpunished anywhere in the world. Singapore is today a safe city because we have had a justice system which has made sure of this since the fifties. You are against capital punishment but please don’t try to do away with what you consider “torture”. A life sentence should be the minimum for heinous crimes of any sort. Are you old enough to remember the “Pulau Senang” riots where Mr. Dutton was brutally murdered and dismembered by the perpetrators. They were all found guilty and were hanged. I think there were 18 of them,
from memory. I believe it is called “common intention” in legal terms and that is why they all copped it. Every country has it’s own way of dealing with crime. I support the Singapore way….always will. You do the crime, you do the time and whatever comes with it…even if it is 24 strokes of the “rotan”.

Comment by James Connor

why would anyone waste time on a bitch like her! perhaps she should petition for the murder case of the Tan family, perhaps she should be the one to be raped, whole family murdered and screw in the arrss or whatever, she is opportunistic only for her good self and fighter only for the fame of her name…screw her..could not wait till someone really blessed her with wrath of sins, commit unto her or her immediate family…wait and see if she will still fight to have ONLY life imprissonment!

Comment by suling

I do not believe in revenge, thank you very much.

Maybe you should check this group out for your personal enlightenment: http://www.mvfhr.org/


Comment by rachelabsinthe

I agree with James. You cannot have your cake n eat it – you want a safe country but do not want any harsh punishment to brutal criminals who took away innocent lives. Whatever public opinions are, I hope the law would do justice to the innocent dead and the family and melt whatever punishment it takes to deter would-be criminals from brutally attacking innocent persons. We want a safe and compassionate country who helps people who needs help but not encourage people to do the most evil.

Comment by Useless creature

Well of course, you are free to agree or disagree with anyone here but in a very quick response to you, here are a few points:

Life imprisonment in itself, is already a very harsh punishment.

Also, one interesting point for you here: In some countries, victim families come together to call for the end of the death penalty.

I personally do not believe in revenge and in order to build a society that respects human life, one of the very things we should look into changing, is the law.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

[…] – Rachel Zeng’s blog: Fabian Adiu Edwin – The first death-row inmate to get his sentence commuted under the new law […]

Pingback by Daily SG: 18 Jul 2013 | The Singapore Daily

Oh Rachel, i think uve used the wrong pic. this pic is a different guy. LOL

Comment by elzi

This is taken from Asiaone.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

He is a foreigner. Now we have to feed, cloth & house him for his life imprisonment. Are we taxpayers footing the bill ? Don’t forget, there are many foreigners who will commit crime in Singapore. Can’t we just deport him to Malaysia ?

Comment by ssik

In case some people may think that this reduction of death penalty to life imprisonment is willingly granted by the government, they are wrong.

This has been the result of long hard-fought arguments with many pro-death trolls like lockeliberal and lobo 76 who even used intimidations to dissuade posting from myself and others on wrongful prosecution and miscarriages of justices in Yong Vui Kong and others.

It is because of miscarriages in cases where wrongful prosecution resulted that government has no choice but to change to mandatory death sentence to allow fairer prosecution against drug lords with a reduction of mandatory death penalty for some cases with mitigating circumstances.

Yet minister Shandmugam has the audacity to issue a statement that government has not given in to pressure in revising the law on mandatory death penalty on drug trafficking.

Yaacob should not have accused netizens of any misinformation in pushing through the clamp-down on social media news websites, as netizens have helped them to improve the government or even correct costly mistakes.

Otherwise there will be even more miscarriage of justice and many more lives would have been unnecessarily executed because of the judges could not do anything to reduce the mandatory death sentence to life imprisonment to take into account mitigation like young and immature carriers or those being duped to carry drug with the drug lords oprnly escaping death penalty while some stupid carriers hanged without being given a chance due to certain mitigating circumstances. (read my many old posts on the onlinecitizens until the trolls finally admitted errors in laws)

Comment by Robert Teh

it is a ridiculous expense we are saddling the state with.

thinking out of the box how about substituting life imprisonment with say 3 months of intensive torture then release with an electronic tag.

probably just as good a deterrent and much cheaper.

what so special about human life. humanity grows on the back of the exceptional few, while the remainder are just part of the iterative process which allows the generation of these exceptional few. the lost of one or two degenerates in the grand scheme of things makes absolutely no difference.

the pro death penalty supporters should let our voices be heard.

Comment by concerned

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