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Malaysia couple spared death for starving Cambodian maid

Soh Chew Tong  and Chin Chui Ling, photographed on their way to court in 2012, saw their sentences reduced from death penalty to 10 years imprisonment last week. Asia News Network
Soh Chew Tong and Chin Chui Ling, photographed on their way to court in 2012, saw their sentences reduced from death penalty to 10 years imprisonment last week. Asia News Network

Malaysia couple spared death for starving Cambodian maid

A Malaysian couple who were on death row for starving their Cambodian maid to death saw their sentences reduced to 10 years in prison last week, according to Malaysian rights organisations.

Chin Chui Ling and her husband, Soh Chew Tong, were initially convicted of homicide in 2013, but the appeal court handed them the death sentence for murder in 2015. On Thursday the Federal Court of Malaysia again reduced the charge to homicide.

Cambodian maid Mey Sichan went to Malaysia in 2011, and was found dead in 2012 weighing just 26.1 kilograms with marks of physical abuse.

Glorene Das, executive director of Malaysian human rights organisation Tenaganita, told reporters that, while her organisation did not support the death penalty, the 10-year sentence was unacceptable.

“There needs to be a stronger sentence for ending a human life,” she said.

Glorene added that memorandums of understanding to send workers to Malaysia weren’t sufficient protection as they did not hold perpetrators accountable.

Sally Alexander, also from Tenaganita, said in a message that she had visited the Cambodian Embassy a few weeks ago and found it had only a small room for temporary shelter for victims, and suggested it increase its capacity.

Cambodian Labour Minister Ith Samheng announced last week that the Kingdom would start sending maids to Malaysia again in June after a 2011 ban prompted by widespread abuses.

Naly Pilorge, of Cambodian human rights organisation Licadho, said that she was “confused and sickened” to hear about the reduction of the sentence given “the long suffering and terrible circumstances of the death of Mey Sichan”.

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