Lawyers plead at embassy for clemency for mentally disabled Malaysian on Singapore death row

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Pleading for the life of one who is of diminished intellectual capacity.

Lawyer groups are pleading with Singapore President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to commute the death sentence of Malaysian Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam.

Members of the Malaysian Bar Council gathered in front of the Singapore High Commission at Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon and handed a memorandum appealing for Nagaenthran’s clemency.

“We have asked for Nagaenthran’s clemency from the prime minister and president of the Republic of Singapore.

“We really hope the sentencing will be commuted,” said Bar Council president AG Kalidas to the media, after presenting the letter to the High Commission at around 4.30pm.

The letter was jointly signed by Malaysian Bar Council, Advocates Association of Sarawak, as well as the Sabah Law Society.

According to Kalidas, the letter was accepted personally by Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon.

The lawyers said they are disappointed the Malaysian government has yet to voice out on the matter so far and noted that Malaysia was just recently appointed to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Our question that we put to the Malaysian government is – what are you going to do about this?

FMT

“Publicly we have not heard anything from the Malaysian government about any efforts that they are undertaking to try and at least intervene on behalf of Nagaenthran,” said Bar Council constitutional committee co-chair Andrew Khoo to the media.

The groups urged the Malaysian government to uphold its commitment as a UN Human Rights Council member and act quickly to stop the execution of Nagaenthran.

They also pleaded with the island nation’s government to exercise compassion in this case.

“Justice also comes with compassion. What we are asking the Singapore government is to show some compassion in this instance and spare the life of (Nagaenthran) who is of diminished intellectual capacity.

“If any case is deserving of commutation, it is this,” Khoo added.

The groups also highlighted that Singapore is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and argued executing an intellectually challenged person would go against the statute.

Nagaenthran was convicted in Singapore of trafficking 42.27g of diamorphine, or heroin, back in 2011.

However, his defence team reportedly raised his mental disability after his conviction.

He was diagnosed by medical professionals with a borderline intellectual disability with an IQ of 69, lower than the average human IQ of between 85 to 115.

Earlier today, DAP MP Kasthuri Patto urged the government to intervene and appeal to the Singapore government to stop the execution of Nagaenthran.

A petition to save Nagaenthran has also been launched on change.org and has garnered over 25,000 signatures at the time of writing.

Last week, human rights group Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network also urged the Singapore government to commute the death sentence of Nagaenthran.

Another rights group, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), urged the government to make representations to the Singapore authorities to spare Nagaenthran from the gallows.

LFL adviser N Surendran said the government could lodge a report with the International Court of Justice.

Nagaenthran is due to be executed next Wednesday (Nov 10).

His family recently spoke to Malaysiakini about the case, hoping that the Singapore government would spare Nagaenthran’s life.

Deepavali trip to Singapore to see Nagaenthran one last time

When Panchalai Supermaniam travels to Singapore later this week to see her son, it will be their first meeting in almost three years.

It may also possibly be their last.

Panchalai, 59, works as a cleaner and will be using her Deepavali leave to make the trip.

The family learned about the execution date last week on Oct 26 via an email from the Singapore Prison Service.

Nagaenthran’s eldest sister Sharmila Dharmalingam said she cried when she first got the news, worried whether seeing him before he died would even be possible.

How would they navigate Covid-19 travel rules and secure all necessary approvals in time?

Would they need to borrow money to afford the travel and quarantine expenses?

“This is Deepavali time. I don’t know how (the authorities in) Singapore made the decision to give the sentence on Nov 10.

“This is not the right time also because it is during the Covid-19 pandemic. They didn’t think about how difficult it would be for family members.

“We are not from a rich family,” the housewife told Malaysiakini in a phone interview.

This is while they had already spent money to prepare for Deepavali, which falls on Nov 4.

An online petition calling on Singapore President Halimah Yacob to pardon Nagaenthran has garnered more than 28,000 signatures as of 5.30pm today.

Singapore-based Transformative Justice Collective held a crowdfunding campaign to enable Nagaethran’s family to travel to Singapore to see him one last time.

The campaign managed to garner almost twice the targeted SG$9,900 amount.

Using the funds, the collective is now helping arrange documents, flights, accommodation, meals, transport and RT-PCR tests for four family members, including Panchalai.

Funeral arrangements have also been budgeted for.

With these financial and logistical burdens off her shoulders, Sharmila said she was very grateful and relieved.

However, she will not be making the trip as she has to remain in Ipoh, Perak to take care of her children and home.

While she is prepared for the worst and looks forward to seeing Nagaethran one last time through a video call, deep in her heart Sharmila hopes her brother will be spared.

“I hope it won’t happen. I hope he will come back to me,” she said.