Singapore, please stop the imminent execution of Syed Suhail — Sangkari Pranthaman

SEPTEMBER 16 — Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin, 44-yr, has been sentenced to hang in Changi Prison, Singapore, come this Friday, and I could not be any more devastated and angry on Singapore over this. My very own brother, Pannir Selvam, was also sentenced to hang inside Changi Prison, but his sentence had been commuted as he is now awaiting a fair trial.

Looking back, my family and I know quite a bit on what Syed Suhail and his family must be feeling right now. We went through this exact painful moment last year, when we were desperately running around finding a lawyer to represent Pannir in the courts.

We need to bring to global attention that even in this modern era, a world-class developing first-world country like Singapore, is steadily practicing death penalty for minor drug offenders, despite the fact that countless studies and experts has come to the mutual consensus that the death penalty is ineffective in deterring drug offenses. In fact, despite having tough penalties, drug abuse in Singapore is still on the increase (The Cabin Singapore, 2019).

Why Singapore? Why? Why do you insist on hanging drug offenders? Why do you insist on killing them, when it is clear that they are clearly affected, from drug addiction and poverty, and in need for more care, rehabilitation and guidance?

Death row man Syed Suhail Syed Zin. — Pictures from Sangkari Pranthaman
Death row man Syed Suhail Syed Zin. — Pictures from Sangkari Pranthaman

Have the officials in Singapore ever considered what Syed Suhail would be feeling right now? He knew a week ahead then he would be hanged, and is now counting down to his death. With the added pressure of being confined, he would be driven to being delusional, insane and worst, suicidal, a cruel way to spend his remaining days, while waiting for death.

In Syed’s letter to lawyer M. Ravi, he wrote that he has an immediate family member in Malaysia, who is unable to visit him now, due to the Covid-19 lockdown. How heartless can Singapore be to hang Syed during this pandemic situation.

Syed’s family members will be undergoing a suffering like no other, being disenfranchised from grieving and facing psychological trauma that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Syed and his legal defence counsel has repeatedly attempted to bring to light that the narcotic substance he tried to carry with him into Singapore was not for trafficking, but rather for his addiction, but to no avail. An addiction, if not treated, will result in severe physiological and psychological issues for him.

Syed’s family will now be parting with him because of Singapore’s stubbornness and inability to view his addiction as a medical condition, but rather only as a crime. The loss will now deny his family all the hope, dreams and expectation they had for him, all to be hanged and buried along with Syed this Friday.

In Syed’s letter to lawyer M. Ravi, he mentioned that his family members will bear the pain of his lost for the rest of their lives. What also needs to be brought up to discussion is addressing the trauma that the family members face and healing that needs to be undertaken for their lives to return back to close to possible. These are all neglected in various governments’ fervour to hang all offenders, even those with minor offenses.

We would think that Singapore, Malaysia and all civilized countries that practices the death penalty would understand that hanging Syed and other offenders like him not only hurts them but their families and friends, but that may not be the case. It is devastating, destructive and infringement of basic human rights. Syed has been on the death row for 9 years now, since 2011.

As a sister of death row inmates I humbly urge the Singapore government to stop this cruel execution. Brothers and sister, let’s work together to stop this execution. There are many better ways to cure this drug sickness, it’s too foolish to imposed death penalty on a medical patience.

As a sister to a death row inmate, I implore to Singapore, please, stop this execution. It helps no one, and does nothing but harm and damage. Brothers and sisters.

*Sangkari Pranthaman is the elder sister of Malaysian Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, who is on death row in Singapore for a drug offence.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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