Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Stop being Goebbels by repeating ‘lies’, group tells Singapore on impending execution

Lawyers for Liberty also disputes a claim by the Singapore home ministry that psychiatrist called by the defence in Nagaenthran Dharmalingam's trial had said he was not intellectually disabled.

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A Singapore government statement accusing a Malaysian convict of altering his academic qualifications to show his inferior IQ as diagnosed by a psychiatrist during his trial has been condemned by a rights group, which describes it as akin to lies repeated in the style of Nazi-era propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), which has been vocal against the death sentence of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, said the Singapore government was repeating baseless claims to defend its decision to proceed with his execution scheduled on Nov 10.

“The contents of both the Nov 3 and 6 statements are substantially similar, hence this appears to be mainly a ‘Goebbels-like’ exercise in repetition,” said LFL adviser N Surendran.

“In essence, the home ministry again repeats that the courts had assessed all the evidence including psychiatric testimony and had affirmed the death sentence, but this does not answer concerns in Malaysia, Singapore and throughout the world that it is cruel, inhuman and unlawful to execute someone like Nagaenthran who has borderline intellectual functioning, IQ of 69, ADHD and other associated cognitive problems.”

LFL also questioned a claim by the Singapore home ministry that a psychiatrist called by the defence in Nagaenthran’s trial had said he was not intellectually disabled.

“On the contrary, the defence psychiatrist Dr Ung Eng Khean of Adam Medical Centre in fact testified in the High Court that Nagaenthran was intellectually disabled. A quick perusal of the reported judgment will confirm this,” it said.

Singapore has been facing growing pressure in both the city-state and in Malaysia to halt the execution of Nagaenthran, with rights activists reminding Singapore of its obligation to abide by international treaties prohibiting capital punishment for mentally disabled persons.

An online petition urging Singapore President Halimah Yacob to use her power of pardon on Nagaenthran has gathered close to 60,000 signatures.

On Nov 3, dozens of activists gathered at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur urging the Malaysian government to plead for Nagaenthran’s life.

A Singapore lawyer’s constitiutional challenge is meanwhile set to be heard on Monday in a bid to stop the execution.

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