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KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 ― Legal advocacy group Lawyers For Liberty today accused the Singapore government of bulldozing through procedures to hang another Malaysian who was found to merely be a drug courier and not a mastermind in illicit substances.
The group’s adviser N. Surendran said Pannir Selvam, 32, is scheduled for execution in Changi Prison in the republic in just six more days, adding that his family was only notified of it and told to make the necessary arrangements to claim his body later yesterday.
“The execution by hanging is to be carried out at dawn on Friday 24th May 2019,” he said in a statement.
He said the one-week notice is “oppressive and unjust to both Pannir and his family”.
The last known Malaysian to be executed in Changi Prison on similar charges of carrying drugs into Singapore was Prabu N. Pathmanathan, 31, in October 2018. Like Pannir, Prabu was said to be just a drug mule.
According to Surendran, Pannir was convicted on June 27, 2017 by the Singapore High Court of allegedly trafficking in 51.84 grammes of diamorphine at the Woodlands Checkpoint on September 3, 2014 despite consistently pleading innocence.
But the lawyer also asserted that there were several irregularities in the Singapore legal process that will see the young Malaysian hanged next week even though the latter has strong grounds to obtain clemency.
“Once again, Singapore is planning to execute a mere drug mule, whilst the drug kingpins continue to ply their trade with impunity.
“More disturbingly, Pannir's final recourse of a clemency petition to the President of Singapore has been tainted with illegality and unlawful acts by the Singapore authorities,” Surendran said.
The former lawmaker highlighted that Pannir had aided the Singapore authorities by providing critical information about one Anand, believed to be the mastermind who had duped Pannir into carrying a package containing drugs to Singapore.
However, he claimed the Singapore public prosecutor unreasonably denied the certificate of assistance to Pannir that would have enabled the court to sentence the Malaysian to life imprisonment instead of death.
He also highlighted irregularities in the Singapore President Halimah Yacob’s rejection of clemency to Pannir and the notice of execution to the Malaysian’s family in Kuala Lumpur.
“The letter from the President refusing clemency is dated 17 May 2019, but the letter notifying family of the execution was posted out on 16 May 2019. How can the prison proceed to execution prior to the date of refusal of clemency by the President?” Surendran asked.
He said the irregularity suggests “executive interference” in the clemency process as Halimah could not have given proper thought to the plea as she is duty-bound to do under Article 22P of the Singapore Constitution.
“It is appallingly clear from the cavalier and irregular way in which the President's office and the Prison Services dealt with Pannir's clemency that they intended all the while to proceed with the execution come what may,” Surendran said.
He also urged the Malaysian government to intervene in Pannir’s case and ask the Lion City to drop the execution, reminding Putrajaya of its own move to end the mandatory death penalty for drug offences and several other laws.
“Malaysia cannot stand by and watch as our citizen's rights are denied and subsequently executed,” he said.
Despite all that, Surendran called on the Singapore government not to proceed with the execution of Pannir but to commute his sentence to life imprisonment instead.
“Singapore will not rid the Island of the drug problem by hanging low level drug mules. Instead, Singapore will only gain the abhorrence of the civilised world for its brutal and ineffective methods.”
A recent survey by the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs found only half of its youths are for the death penalty for drug-related offences even as they applaud their government’s tough stance against illegal substances.
The Malaysian Parliament passed amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 in 2017 and took effect in March last year.
No Malaysian convicted on drug-related charges were executed domestically last year.
The Pakatan Harapan government is expected to table Bills to end the mandatory death sentence at the next parliamentary sitting in July.