Stay Nagaenthran’s execution until Singapore president decides on clemency pleas

AMNESTYUSA.ORG

Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) applauds caring Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and the Malaysian King when they pleaded for clemency to the Singapore government and Singapore’s President Halimah Binte Yacob to spare the life of Malaysian Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who has been sentenced to death for drug trafficking by the Singapore courts (Malay Mail, 7 November 2021; Free Malaysia Today, 23 November 2021).

Madpet calls on the opposition leader and all Malaysian political parties to also plead for the life of this Malaysian, whilst noting that a failure to care for the lives of individual Malaysians, especially those at risk of being executed overseas, indicates a lack of care of individual Malaysians by these political parties. This augurs negatively for parties and politicians on a quest for power to represent the people and/or to govern if they lack care for life, human rights and justice.

It must be noted that Malaysia at present has a moratorium on executions, in line with a UN General Assembly resolution, that Malaysia too voted in favour in 2018, and again in 2020 calling for a moratorium on executions pending the abolition of the death penalty.

Nagaenthran’s court date: 30 November 2021

Nagaenthran, who was scheduled to be hanged on 10 November 2021, managed to get a stay of execution until the Court of Appeal heard and decided on an application now pending before this court. That case, which was scheduled to be heard on 10 November 2021, was then postponed when Nagaenthran was infected with Covid.

It has recently been revealed that the Singapore court has now rescheduled the hearing for 30 November (Malaysian Insight, 26 November 2021). It was reported that Nagaenthran’s appeal against his death sentence will be heard at Singapore’s Court of Appeal on 30 November, his family said, after receiving information from the lawyer.

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Nagaenthran was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to death in 2011 under the Misuse of Drugs Act for illegally importing 42.7g of diamorphine. This case has sparkeda  public outcry with particular attention on his lower-than-average IQ of 69 and other mental health issues.

Despite what court decides, president has power of clemency

Irrespective of whether the courts uphold the death sentence, the Singapore president still has the power to grant clemency and commute the death sentence to imprisonment, and historically, this has happened several times in Singapore in, among others, the following cases:

  • 1978: Mohamad Kunjo s/o Ramalan, death sentence for murder commuted to life imprisonment by then President Benjamin Sheares
  • 1980: Bobby Chung Hua Watt, death sentence for murder was commuted to life imprisonment by then President Benjamin Sheares
  • 1983: Siti Aminah binte Jaffar, death sentence for drug trafficking commuted to life imprisonment by then President Devan Nair
  • 1993: Sim Ah Cheoh, death sentence for drug trafficking in 1985 commuted and she was released on 16 February 1995 by then President Wee Kim Wee
  • 1992: Koh Swee Beng, death sentence for murder commuted to life imprisonment by then President Wee Kim Wee
  • 1998: Mathavakannan Kalimuthu, death sentence for murder commuted to life imprisonment by then President Ong Teng Cheong

As such, Madpet pleads for clemency by President Halimah Binte Yacob in this case of Nagaenthran, who has recently been shown to be mentally or intellectually disabled or challenged; as such, it would be a gross injustice to continue to execute such a person.

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Stay of execution until President Halimah responds to pleas of clemency

Madpet recalls the case of convicted Malaysian murderer Jabing Kho, 32, who was executed on the same day, hours after a five-judge appeal court denied his latest bid to escape the gallows (Straits Times, 20 May 2016) and hopes that the same thing does not happen to Nagaenthran.

Time must be given, as a sign of respect, to the Singapore president to consider the many pleas for clemency, and as such Madpet urges that execution be stayed until President Halimah decides whether to grant clemency and commute the death sentence.

Madpet reiterates its call for abolition of the death penalty and for a moratorium on executions pending abolition.

Charles Hector issued this statement on behalf of Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet)



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