The Birthday of Umi Lazim

    Umi Lazim teaches English in her free time. She has got time to kill, but it is not particularly free: She is on death row in a local prison for bringing heroin into the country, and today is her 24th birthday.

    If she is lucky, she will celebrate the rest of her birthdays behind bars. If not, she has just a few more to go.

    Lazim is a Malaysian citizen who had graduated from university just months before she got on a plane and flew into Shantou airport nearly a year ago with 2.98 kilograms of heroin in her luggage, say reports in the Malaysian and Singaporean press.

    She is one of a number of young women from Malaysia who have become drug mules, according to the articles, for international drug syndicates. Young women are attracted to jobs promising international travel, the reports say.

    The New Straits Times recently reported that the number of foreign citizens arrested for drug smuggling offenses in Guangdong has tripled in the last two years.

    Guangdong has long been a site for smuggling because of its extensive coastline and proximity to Hong Kong and southeast Asia.

    Lazim recently received a visit from her parents who were granted visiting rights.

    In addition to teaching English in jail, reports indicate that she has become proficient in Mandarin.

    Articles on Umi Lazim, the drug trade, and smuggling:

    New Straits Times

    The Star

    China Daily