An activist has appealed to Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah to intervene in the scheduled execution of a mentally disabled Malaysian on death row in Singapore, in light of the country’s recent appointment to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Angelia Pranthaman, president of NGO Sebaran Kasih, said while it was inhumane to execute a person who is intellectually disabled, it was “extra cruel” to do so during the festival season of Deepavali, which falls on Nov 4.
She also hit out at “antiquated” penitentiary systems which continue to employ the death penalty.
“Sebaran Kasih is requesting the intervention of ministers and governments to withhold Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam’s execution. At the very least, his sentence and verdict must be re-evaluated, considering his state of mind,” she said.
Nagaenthran was convicted in 2011 of illegally importing 42.72g of diamorphine and sentenced to death under Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act.
Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) revealed on Thursday that his mother had been informed in a letter from the Singapore Prison Service dated Oct 26 that her son would be executed on Nov 10.
According to LFL, Nagaenthran suffers from mental disabilities and possesses an IQ of 69, with his condition diagnosed and certified by a qualified Singapore-based psychiatrist.
Angelia, whose own brother is also on death row in Singapore’s Changi prison for trafficking in 51.84g of diamorphine, said Malaysia’s representatives at the country’s recent seating at the United Nations conference had mentioned that priority must be given especially to vulnerable people.
“It’s time that Malaysia starts walking its talk,” she said. “We urge the minister of foreign affairs to interfere and to appeal to stop this execution and change Nagaenthran’s death sentence to life in prison.”
Angelia said when her brother, Pannir Selvam, was given an execution date, Liew Vui Keong who was law minister at the time came forward to help her family.
“He went the extra mile to talk to his Singapore counterparts and contacted the law minister of Singapore, with the backing of other higher Malaysian authorities to do something about it.
“Saifuddin Abdullah was working on behalf of Putrajaya to try to convince the Singapore government to spare Pannir’s life. Can we have our current government step forward to appeal to Singapore to spare Nagenthiren’s life now?”
Urging the government to play an active role in caring for its citizens, including those on death row in foreign countries, she said Malaysia must remember its values and prioritise the lives of its citizens regardless of the circumstances.
“For that, we have to look into how we can help all Malaysian death row inmates, whether here or overseas, and eventually the abolition of the death penalty in our land.”