Urgent support needed for Kho Jabing and family

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By Kirsten Han from We Believe in Second Chances

The news hit us like a ton of bricks. We’d been waiting for months, through SG50 celebrations to the hectic days of the general election to the post-Polling Day lull. And although we had strong suspicions of what the answer would be, the confirmation came as a shock. 

On 22 October we found out that Kho Jabing’s clemency appeal had been rejected. President Tony Tan, acting on the advice of the Cabinet, would be continuing his predecessor’s practice of not granting any pardons to any death row inmate. (The last clemency granted was in 1998.)

Jabing, now 31, was first sentenced to death in 2010 under the mandatory death penalty after a 2008 robbery and assault of construction Cao Ruyin resulted in Cao’s death. Amendments to the mandatory death penalty allowed his death sentence to be set aside in favour of life imprisonment with 24 strokes of the cane. But the prosecution appealed, and the Court of Appeal bench sentenced him, once again, to death. The decision was not unanimous: three judges decided that the death penalty was appropriate, two disagreed.

You can read more about Jabing’s case here.

There is no official process for appeal after clemency has been rejected. Jabing’s sister Jumai and his mother Lenduk received the news in their home in rural Sarawak. They were upset and lost. Unable to speak English and with very little money, they didn’t know what they could do for Jabing. 

No execution date is given when the clemency appeal is rejected, so we don’t know how much time Jabing has left. We won’t be giving up on Jabing, but will also be supporting the family in their wish to spend as much time with him as they can. 

When such terrible news comes things become painfully practical. When can the family fly to Singapore? Where shall they stay, and for how long? Can they get extended visitation from the prison authorities so they can spend more time with Jabing before the end? And if/when the horrible end does come, how do we plan and pay for the funeral?

Jabing’s family needs funds to be able to afford their stay in Singapore to be with him for as long as they can. They need help to pay for their flights, accommodation and daily expenses.

We’ve booked flights for Jumai and Lenduk to come to Singapore, as well as accommodation for a week. We don’t think Jabing will be executed this Friday, but he might be next Friday, in which case we will have to extend the family’s stay and assist with funeral arrangements.  

These are our estimated costs:

Flights: Approx. $240
Hostel (for two weeks): Approx. $900
Daily expenses: $60 per day (to cover transport and meals, and other costs that might crop up) x 14 days = $840

We have not yet included costs for a potential funeral, partly because we haven’t given up on saving him, but also because the costs will vary depending on his and his family’s wishes.

Jumai and Lenduk might also have to stay for another week (making it three weeks rather than two) for the funeral and also to have time and space to grieve.

We will update everyone when our costs estimates change. In the event that we raise more money than was actually needed for Jabing and his family, a portion will be given to his family to help with costs (such as his mother’s healthcare and medication), while the remainder will be held to assist with future capital punishment cases as well as our advocacy work. We will publish the breakdown so that everyone is aware of where the money has gone.

If you’re interested in funding, please get in touch by filling out the contact form or emailing contact [at] secondchances [dot] asia.

We are also looking for a Malay-speaking counsellor with experience in bereavement/grief counselling, so please let us know if you know anyone.


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