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Saifuddin says contact made with Singapore on execution of mentally disabled Malaysian

The foreign minister says developments will be monitored and the appropriate consular aid extended to Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam and his family.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Malaysian prisoner Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam is scheduled to be executed in Singapore on Nov 10.
Malaysian prisoner Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam is scheduled to be executed in Singapore on Nov 10.

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says he has written to his counterpart in Singapore regarding the case of a Malaysian prisoner in the city-state slated for execution later this month.

“The foreign ministry through the high commission in Singapore will continue to monitor developments in this case, and will extend the appropriate consular aid to Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam and his family,” he said in a statement today.

Nagaenthran was convicted in 2011 of illegally importing 42.72g of diamorphine and sentenced to death under Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act, a controversial law that the city-state’s leaders have defended as an effective deterrent against drug trafficking.

His sentence came despite a diagnosis of mental disabilities and a low IQ level, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

Medical documents tendered during his trial said he could also have had little regard for the long-term consequences of his actions, while noting severe alcohol use disorder that would affect his judgment and decision making.

Saifuddin’s comments follow a gathering of dozens of activists outside Parliament earlier today who had sought to hand over a memorandum highlighting Nagaenthran’s plight.

They said the execution of Nagaenthran would be a violation not only of international treaties but also of the Singapore constitution, adding that Malaysia too has an obligation to live up to the human rights principles by which it must abide following its recent appointment to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Saifuddin said the appeal process had been carried out to the last stage, through the application for presidential clemency, but that the request was rejected on June 1, 2020.

“I have also received a letter from the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network through Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah, informing of the execution and asking the foreign ministry to raise the matter with the Singapore government,” he said.

A Singapore court will hear on Nov 8 a constitutional challenge filed by prominent rights lawyer M Ravi in a last-minute bid to stop Nagaenthran’s execution on Nov 10.

Ravi is seeking an interpretation of Article 9 in line with its international obligations, citing a judgment in 2010 on the importance of adhering to the treaties a country has signed, as well as a constitutional clause on the right to equality and equal treatment.