Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa today joined the chorus of appeals for the life of a mentally disabled Malaysian prisoner slated for execution in Singapore, even as a last-ditch attempt in court to save Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam from the death penalty takes place in the city-state.
“I pray that the appeal for #NagaenthranDharmalingam, who has an IQ of 69, will go through so that he will not be executed on Wednesday,” the minister said in a Twitter post.
“Hoping for clemency as requested by our Prime Minister Ismail Sabri.”
Nagaenthran was arrested in 2009 for carrying 43g of heroin into Singapore, which has some of the world’s toughest anti-drugs laws.
He was sentenced to death the following year and was due to be hanged on Nov 10 after losing several appeals.
At the heart of the outrage over his looming execution is a diagnosis of his mental capability, which found among other that he has an IQ of 69 – below the threshold of 70 for declaring a person as intellectually disabled.
Rights groups and activists have held protests over the past two weeks reminding the Singapore government of its obligation to abide by international treaties prohibiting capital punishment for mentally disabled persons.
Ismail himself wrote to his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Looong this week, asking for leniency and expressing hope that Nagaenthran’s appeal could be considered “purely on humanitarian grounds”.
The Singapore High Court granted Nagaenthran a stay of execution yesterday pending a new appeal by his lawyers, who include prominent human rights lawyer M Ravi.
But rights group Lawyers for Liberty later questioned the tight schedule laid out by the court, including two hearings in less than 24 hours and an order for written submissions and affidavits to be filed by 10am today.
“No lawyer can be reasonably expected to file written submissions and prepare and file affidavits overnight. It is a plainly absurd direction from the court with what appears to be the pre-determined intent to dismiss both sets of hearings on Nov 9,” the group said.
Singapore’s home affairs ministry has defended the decision to press ahead with the hanging, saying legal rulings had found that Nagaenthran “knew what he was doing” at the time of the offence.