Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

  Singapore officials insisted on Tuesday that a British man convicted of drug smuggling would be caned despite a plea from London not to inflict the punishment.

Yuen Ye Ming was sentenced by a Singapore court last year to 20 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane after he was convicted on drug-related charges, including trafficking, consumption and possession.

Lashing with a rattan cane, a legacy of British colonial rule, is a common punishment in Singapore and the city-state rarely backs down in applying the law.

Yuen was first arrested in August 2016 for drug-related offences and was convicted last year but released on bail pending sentencing, Singapore's interior ministry said.

While out on bail, he was arrested again for similar narcotics offences, the ministry said.

British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt asked his Singaporean counterpart during a visit to the city-state this month for Yuen to be spared caning, a spokesman for Britain's foreign ministry said.

"We strongly oppose the use of corporal punishment, such as caning, in all cases," the spokesman said.

"The foreign secretary personally raised this with the Singaporean Minister for Foreign Affairs earlier this month."

But Singapore insisted the punishment would be carried out.

"Yuen committed the crimes while he was in Singapore, and must bear the consequences of his actions in accordance with our laws," the interior ministry said.

While caning dates back to colonial rule, Britain abolished it as a punishment for criminals decades ago.

Singapore has in the past rejected allegations from rights groups likening caning to torture.

In 2015, two young German men were sentenced to caning and jail time for vandalising a metro train.

Swiss national Oliver Fricker was also sentenced to caning and jail time in 2010 for vandalising a metro train.

AFP