Yesterday (25 April), a last-minute plea to delay the execution of a Malaysian death row convict in Singapore was filed by his mother, pending a hearing on her appeal against the republic’s chief judge over a probable conflict of interest.
Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, a 34-year-old convict, was originally set to be hanged on Wednesday. He was found guilty of transporting 42.72 grammes of heroin into Singapore.
Nagaenthran was charged with drug trafficking and convicted in 2011.
It is alleged that Nagaenthran was also coerced by a man who assaulted him and threatened to murder his girlfriend.
During the trial, he was deemed to be suffering from ADHD and had an IQ of 69, indicating that he is intellectually handicapped. However, the court found that he was not “significantly disabled” and therefore could fully comprehend that he was committing an illegal act.
Panchalai Supermaniam, 60, will appear in Singapore’s Supreme Court today to argue the case alone. She claimed there was a potential conflict of interest because the chief justice was the attorney general at the time.
Her spokeswoman stated that she will represent herself and fight the case without counsel because no lawyer was willing to stand on the record against Sundaresh Menon, the chief justice.
According to prior news sources, Menon had rejected many family petitions against the execution. Menon served as Attorney General between 2010 and 2012.
Panchalai claims that the indictment and conviction violated the Singapore constitution’s guarantees of life and personal liberty, and he is seeking an injunction declaring the sentence unlawful.
Last year, nearly 20,000 people signed an online petition pleading for Singapore President Halimah Yacob to have mercy on the convict.
In the meantime, netizens continue to side with the mother, in complete agreement that the death penalty is not the best-suited course of action for Nagaenthran.
Many also referred to the punishment as straight-up cruelty. In his case, citizens said the execution would be “a travesty of justice”.
A candlelight vigil was organised in a Singapore park yesterday in protest as well.
“I don’t want to give up hope until the day,” said his cousin, Thenmoli Sunniah.
Speeches, prayers, and musical acts took place at the vigil. Protestors clad in T-shirts with slogans advocating for the abolition of the death sentence also paid tribute to Datchinamurthy Kataiah, another Malaysian on death row in Singapore, who was convicted of trafficking 45 grammes of diamorphine.
Jess Koh, a 26-year-old vigil participant, said, “The penalty is unneeded and archaic, and it doesn’t make us safer; it targets those in poverty and the minority.”
The vigil also suggested that the action taken upon these convicts was racially-motivated.
In Malaysia, although there is a moratorium on executions, capital punishment remains a lawful penalty. Murder, drug trafficking and terrorism are among the 33 crimes punishable by death here.
It is the mandatory punishment for 12 crimes, and it has been utilised primarily for murder and drug trafficking in recent years.