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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 02:29 GMT
Anger as Singapore hanging looms
Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam
Whitlam was Australia's prime minister during the 1970s
A former Australian prime minister has called Singapore a "rogue Chinese port" for ignoring appeals to save a drug smuggler from the death penalty.

Gough Whitlam, in office in the 1970s, made the remark in an interview about the case of an Australian national who is due to be hanged next week.

Australia has appealed for clemency to be granted to Nguyen Tuong Van.

Singapore insisted the law must take its course, saying that drugs ruined the lives of addicts.

Nguyen's lawyer welcomed Mr Whitlam's support but said his remarks about Singapore would not help.

Mr Whitlam said the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, should go further by raising the issue at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta on Friday.

"If [the meeting] is of any use then it should be raised there, because it concerns many other countries - some larger, some smaller than the rogue Chinese port city," he told The Age newspaper.

Nguyen is due to be executed on 2 December after being convicted of trafficking 400 grams (14.11 ounces) of heroin in 2002.

Mr Howard said he would not campaign for support in Malta for his clemency pleas, saying that would likely harden Singapore's determination.

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