Singapore to hang four Malaysians next, says lawyer

Lawyer for Singapore death row inmate P. Pannir Selvam’s family, N. Surendran, speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya July 5, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Lawyer for Singapore death row inmate P. Pannir Selvam’s family, N. Surendran, speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya July 5, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — Four Malaysians are among 10 on Singapore’s death row scheduled to be executed after their clemency petitions failed, local lawyer N. Surendran said today.

The adviser for Malaysia human rights group Lawyers for Liberty — part of a legal team acting to save the life of another Malaysian inmate in Changi Prison P. Pannir Selvam who recently received a last-minute reprieve — sought to highlight the shocking wave of clemency rejections by the Singapore government.

“We can confirm that over the past week up to 10 prisoners have had their clemency petitions rejected by the President of Singapore.

“This is a record number. We believe the actual number of rejections may be even higher than the information we have received so far,” Surendran said in a statement.

He said four of the 10 prisoners are Malaysian men convicted for drug-related offences, naming them as Datchinamurthy Kataiah, Gobi Avedian, Abdul Helmi Ab Halim and Rahmat.

Explaining the process in Singapore, Surendran said the Singapore government’s rejection of a clemency petition from a prisoner who had been sentenced to death “is usually followed soon after by the prisoner’s execution”.

“Hence, it is probable that these prisoners will be executed within weeks from now,” he said.

Saying that Malaysians form the largest group of foreign nationals in Singapore’s Changi prison now facing execution, Surendran urged the Malaysian government to urgently speak to Singapore on behalf of the four who are facing imminent execution.

Surendran described the large and sudden number of clemency rejections by as “unprecedented and shocking”.

“It indicates that Singapore is preparing for an execution binge, in total disregard of international legal norms and decent world opinion,” he claimed, adding that this was despite evidence that the execution of drug mules do not deter drug trafficking syndicates.

Surendran said the unusually high number of clemency rejections raise serious questions on whether the Singapore Cabinet and Singapore president had appropriately considered each of the prisoner’s case.

“It is the constitutional right of each prisoner that their clemency petitions be considered adequately, properly and in accordance with established legal principles,” he said.

Surendran also suggested that Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam’s comments in May had already “jeopardised” the right of prisoners to a proper consideration of their clemency petitions.

He highlighted Shanmugam’s remarks on May 24, 2019 regarding drug offenders and death penalty in Singapore, including “how do we go easy on Malaysians in the face of these statistics”.

Shanmugam had reportedly said one in five of those who carried drug amounts that attracted the death penalty are Malaysians.

Surendran claimed that Shanmugam’s statements suggest that Malaysian prisoners are being “targeted”, and that the Singapore government “has already decided not to spare any drug offenders from execution”.

“This is illegal, as each clemency petition must be considered upon its individual merits.

“We urge the government of Singapore to halt these potentially illegal and unconstitutional executions and impose a moratorium upon all executions pending a thorough review of all the clemency rejections,” he said.