SINGAPORE: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt raised the case of a drug smuggler who was sentenced to caning after being arrested in Singapore to Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said on Sunday (Jan 12).
“Our consular staff have been assisting a British man and his family since his arrest in Singapore in 2016. We strongly oppose the use of corporal punishment, such as caning, in all cases.
"The Foreign Secretary personally raised this with the Singaporean Minister for Foreign Affairs earlier this month," the spokesman added.
Mr Hunt was in Singapore for a two-day official visit from Jan 4 to 5.
In response to a query from Channel NewsAsia, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that British national Yuen Ye Ming was first arrested on Aug 5, 2016. He was then convicted on Jan 17, 2018 and released on court bail, pending his sentencing.
While he was out on bail, Yuen was arrested again on Feb 20, 2018 for committing similar drug-related offences.
"Yuen was sentenced to 20 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane for drug-related offences, including drug trafficking, drug consumption, and drug possession," MHA said.
MHA added that Yuen’s caning has not yet been carried out: "The claim by Yuen's sister that was reported by the Daily Mail, that we were going to proceed with the caning and then had halted it, is patently false."
The Daily Mail report, published on Jan 11, claimed that Singapore prison authorities did not proceed with the caning sentence in December as Yuen "exclaimed it was against his human rights".
MHA said that Yuen has been visited by representatives from the British High Commission, as well as his family members.
"Yuen committed the crimes while he was in Singapore, and must bear the consequences of his actions in accordance with our laws," the ministry said.
“MISLED IN HIS YOUTH”
According to the Daily Mail, London-born Yuen is the son of a marketing consultant from China and a Singapore-born marketing executive.
Prior to moving to Singapore in 2007, he attended Dulwich Prep School and Westminster School in England, the report said.
Formerly a club DJ, Yuen said that he had been "misled in his youth, in an environment surrounded by drugs" in an appeal bid cited by the British newspaper.
In 2007, Yuen was also reportedly wanted by Scotland Yard over an alleged forged driving licences scam.
British newspaper The Evening Standard interviewed him in Singapore where he reportedly admitted to manufacturing fake documents and selling them to students from other schools.
The forged documents enabled the students to conceal their true age in order to purchase alcohol.
The Evening Standard said Yuen, then 18 years old, was working at Home Club in Singapore as a resident DJ under the name DJ Ming.
Yuen admitted in the report to being the "ringleader" of the scam and said it was an "easy way to make money" to fund his party lifestyle.