Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz today urged the government to abide by the moratorium on death sentences in the country, warning that it would otherwise be accused of double standards following the prime minister’s move to appeal on behalf of a mentally disabled Malaysian sentenced to hang for trafficking drugs in Singapore.
“I would like to congratulate the prime minister who, even though he did not have the moral high ground to appeal to another country because a Malaysian citizen faces the gallows, wrote a letter knowing that people would point back at him and say, ‘Your country also hangs people’.
“Meaning that drug offences, if they are outside the country, are okay. But in the country, we hang them,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat.
Nazri was referring to the case of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, whose appointment with the gallows in Changi Prison today was deferred pending the hearing of a last-ditch appeal and a diagnosis of Covid-19.
Nagaenthran, who was arrested in April 2009, had been on death row for more than a decade for trafficking 42.72g of heroin into the city-state which has some of the world’s toughest laws against illegal drugs.
At the heart of the outrage over his scheduled execution was 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.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob meanwhile wrote to his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Looong, asking for leniency and expressing hope that Nagaenthran’s appeal could be considered “purely on humanitarian grounds”.
Nazri said although the government had agreed in 2018 to impose a moratorium on the death penalty, it had U-turned on the decision the following year.
“We retracted it, what is this?” he said. “One minute we agreed, the next we retracted.”
He referred to the case of a single mother with nine children who was handed the death sentence in October for possessing 113.9g of methamphetamine in January 2018.
“We as MPs have the power to do something about the death penalty in the matter of drugs, where the ones who are hanged are not the drug lords but always the drug mules who are rural people, people who are not clever, and people who are in difficulty,” he said.