Monday, November 10, 2008

S'porean escapes KL gallows

Nov 10, 2008

Malaysia's Federal Court sentences him to 18years in jail for Penang crime
By Carolyn Quek
EVER since he was a teenager, Low Soo Song has led a life of crime, chalking up eight convictions in Singapore for armed robbery, possession of firearms and gambling, among other offences.

But after moving to Malaysia in the 1990s, Low - now 56 - seemed to have put all that behind him.

That was until March 2001, when he shot a woman in the leg during a brutal robbery in Penang.

Though the woman survived, Low was sentenced to hang under a Malaysian law that allows an offender to be put to death for shooting a victim during a robbery.

But last week, Malaysia's highest court overturned that ruling, saying there was not enough evidence to prove that Low was robbing the woman at the time of the shooting. Instead, he was sentenced to 18years in jail.

Low broke into a wide grin upon hearing the decision, then thanked the judges as he was escorted from the court room.

In response, one judge advised him to turn over a new leaf, as he has been given a new lease of life.

'Behave yourself, Mr Low,' said Justice Richard Malanjum.

The decision capped five years on death row for the Singaporean, who began his life of crime in 1966 as a 14-year-old, when he was caught gaming in public and fined $300.

His offences got bolder over time.

In 1972, he was fined for hurting a public servant, and the next year, he was jailed for three years and caned three times for committing armed robbery, according to court documents.

He was barely out of jail when he was caught in 1976 for possessing firearms.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment and six strokes of the cane for that offence. Under a life term, an inmate can apply for parole on the grounds of good behaviour after serving a certain number of years. Low was eventually released, though it is not known when.

However in 1991, he ran afoul of the law again, picking up a $500 fine for gaming in public.

He was also jailed for a year for snatch theft and dishonestly receiving stolen property. After his release, it is believed he packed his bags for Malaysia.

It seems he was a changed man there, working as a second-hand goods dealer and staying crime-free for almost a decade.

But then in March 2001, things went downhill. While living in Penang, he became involved in a robbery. He was with another man who snatched a gold chain and bracelet from a woman outside her home in the town of Kepala Batas.

Low then went inside the woman's house, and shot her 22-year-old daughter, Ms Ooi Hua Siew, in the thigh.

He fled the country, and was on the run for more than six months before Thai police caught up with him in Bangkok and handed him over to the Malaysian authorities in October 2001.

Low was convicted in December 2003 by the Penang High Court under the Firearms Act and sentenced to death.

He fought hard against the decision, taking his protest to Malaysia's Court of Appeal last November, only to have his case dismissed.

His last chance came in Malaysia's Federal Court last Tuesday. There, his court-assigned lawyer, Mr Amer Hamzah Arshad, argued that the prosecution had not proved that Low was committing the direct act of robbery when he shot the woman.

The three judges who presided over the appeal agreed, commuting the death sentence and convicting him of causing grievous hurt, which carries a maximum term of 20 years behind bars.

[What a crappy prosecution!]

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