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Borneo: M'sian sentenced to death for possessing cannabis

Rol Ezam and Malai FadleyRizal

Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday 27 Oct 2004


A Malaysian national was sentenced to death by hanging by the Brunei High
Court yesterday for possessing a compressed slab of cannabis weighing
922.276 grammes for the purpose of trafficking. His compatriot, who was
jointly charged, however escaped the noose. Under the Brunei law,
possessing more than 600 grammes of a controlled drug carries the death

The defendant, Lam Ming Hwa, who is the second defendant, was found guilty
after trial for possessing the said drugs by the Chief Justice Dato Seri
Paduka Mohammed Saied and Judge Dato Paduka Steven Chong.

Lam Ming Hwa and first defendant Sylvester Anak Kuling were caught by the
Narcotics Control Bureau officers at a plaza in Tutong on November 24, 2002.

"Since the amount of cannabis exceeds 600 grammes, the sentence we are
obliged to pass is one of death, with a direction that he be hanged by the
neck till he is dead," said the Chief Justice in passing his verdict.

The court rejected explanations of the defendant, who is represented by
Counsel Mr Zamri Hj Md Taha, about his right ring finger impression found
on the black packet inside the plastic bag, which led to the conviction.

"Having considered his evidence, we are of the considered opinion that
there is nothing in his evidence or in the circumstances appearing in the
prosecution case that would rebut that presumption of possession in him of
the cannabis in the packet, which bore his fingerprint impression," the
Chief Justice noted.

Meanwhile the first defendant, Sylvester Anak Kuling, who was previously
involved in road laying work in Kanowit, Sibu and later helped his friend
working at a vegetable garden, was found innocent of the charge as the
court accepted his explanation on the presence of his right middle finger
impression on a black plastic bag which was discovered by the NCB officers
beneath the front passenger seat of a car bearing registration number BF 9924.

During the trial, Sylvester, who is represented by Counsel Mr Ridzlan Hj
Ibrahim, claimed that he accidentally touched "something" which was beneath
the seat of the car when he was adjusting the seat backwards. As it was not
his car, he did not pay much attention to it.

"The phrase lack of credibility seems to us to imply that a defendant has
to be credible to avoid his defence and/or explanation rejected by the
court. He may not seem credible, yet the defence on which he relies may
raise reasonable doubt about the prosecution case against him, which would
entitle him to an acquittal," said the Chief Justice in acquitting the

Besides the joint charge, both of them faced two charges of consuming
Methylamphetamine and cannabis respectively to which they pleaded guilty
earlier. The Judge sentenced Sylvester to 3 months' imprisonment while Lam,
who is a second offender under the MDA, was sentenced to 3 years' jail on
each of the charges. The sentences, however, were ordered to be run
concurrently with effect from the date of their arrest on November 24, 2002.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hj Nabil Daraina, assisted by DPP Hjh Anifa
Rafiza, conducted the prosecution.




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