A 40-year-old Singapore father-of-three is facing death by lethal injection in Vietnam, in yet another case of citizens of the republic running afoul of drug laws abroad as authorities in the city-state defend tough punishments for such crimes at home.
Cher Wei Hon’s case was taken up by Singapore lawyer M Ravi after family members reached out to the prominent rights activist following news of his involvement in the case of another Singapore citizen who has been sentenced to death in China.
“Cher’s family reached out to me after Aslinda’s case came to public attention,” Ravi said, referring to the case of Siti Aslinda Junaidi who could face the firing squad if she fails in her appeal at the Guangdong High Court.
Cher was found guilty by a court in the Tay Ninh province in southern Vietnam in August this year, a month after his arrest at the Vietnam-Cambodia border.
Ravi said Cher was currently unrepresented, with no lawyer to advise him on his appeal.
“They were not even sure if he had a lawyer during his trial,” he said.
“I have accepted this matter on a pro bono basis as he has three young kids being looked after by his ailing mother.”
He added that he had contacted a human rights lawyer in Vietnam “and hopes to get to the bottom of this case soon”.
“They were not even sure if he had a lawyer during his trial.”
It is understood that Cher was told by a woman in Vietnam to transport nearly 10kg of methamphetamine from Cambodia to pay off a debt of about US$8,600 (RM34,800) which he owed her.
With each trip, the woman would write off between US$500 and US$1,000, according to Vietnam’s Tuoi Tre News website.
Ravi, a vocal critic of the government who has represented death-row prisoners in Singapore, said Cher’s case is yet another example of how the poor are targeted by the death penalty.
“Before one can judge Cher’s innocence, it is important that he has proper legal representation and a fair process that metes out the punishment,” he added.
Ravi recently highlighted the plight of Aslinda, who was caught in Shenzen carrying drugs for a man she met online, who offered her between US$2,000 and US$3,000 to move goods such as handbags and toner cartridges between China and Cambodia.
Singapore’s mainstream media did not report on Aslinda’s plight until recently, after it was carried by CNN which cited court documents revealing details of her trial.
Earlier this month, Aslinda’s 17-year-old daughter Ismiraldha told MalaysiaNow that there had been a lack of documentation on her mother’s case, while a letter from her mother said no one from the Singapore consulate-general in Guangdong had visited her for over a year.
The Singapore government later said its officials were unable to visit Aslinda after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.