Prominent Singapore human rights lawyer M Ravi today said that Malaysian death row inmate Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam had been denied fair consideration in his clemency appeal, after the city-state’s president rejected his petition for a pardon to avoid execution.
Ravi said the latest decision to reject Nagaenthran’s clemency merely maintained the government’s stand in 2020, without taking into account developments since then.
“It also does not appear to take into consideration the latest developments including various pleas made by the Agong and prime minister of Malaysia, and Nagaenthran’s latest psychiatric reports submitted in court,” Ravi told MalaysiaNow when asked to comment on the decision.
Ravi also cited Singapore laws which state that in considering an appeal for pardon, the president is expected to act on the advice of the Cabinet but also take into account reports from the trial judge, as well as the opinion of the attorney‑general.
The latest rejection of Nagaenthran’s clemency bid was made known in a letter dated March 31.
“Please be informed that the position, as communicated in our letter dated June 1, 2020, remains unchanged,” said the letter from the presidential office to Nagaenthran’s mother, Panchalai Supermaniam.
The letter came two days after the Court of Appeal dismissed Nagaenthran’s appeal against his death sentence.
Nagaenthran, now 34, was arrested in 2009 for trafficking a small amount of heroin into Singapore, which has some of the world’s toughest drug laws.
He was handed the death sentence the following year, and was scheduled to be hanged in November last year when his plight attracted international attention including from British aviation magnate Richard Branson.
At the centre of the controversy is Nagaenthran’s IQ score of 69 – a level recognised as a disability – which makes his execution illegal under Singapore law as well as a violation of international treaties.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob were among Malaysian government leaders who had also written to Singapore authorities asking for leniency on behalf of Nagaenthran.