An anti-death penalty activist today shared a picture of Malaysian Kalwant Singh, taken as part of the bizarre photo shoot practice by Singapore's prison authorities where death row inmates are told to dress up in their favourite clothes and smile for the camera just days before their execution.
Kokila Annamalai also spoke of Kalwant's final moments with his family members, and how she had accompanied them to buy him new clothes for this purpose at Singapore's popular Mustafa shopping centre.
This incongruous shopping trip took place just days before the death sentence handed down on Kalwant six years ago for trafficking 60g – about half a cup – of diamorphine into the island republic was carried out.
"They picked each item out so carefully, so lovingly," Kokila wrote on Facebook.
"They hunted for a T-shirt with the Manchester United logo, and decided on joggers instead of jeans because they didn’t know his waist size.
"I picked out shoes and a cap for him, and last night, during their final visit, he asked the family to tell me that he walked and ran up and down the corridor a few times, wearing his new shoes."
Kokilla added that the family's final hours together were "full of laughter and jokes".
The photo that she shared showed Kalwant dressed in a long-sleeved T-shirt and track suit, smiling with one leg resting on a stool.
The 31-year-old was executed at dawn today, hours after the Singapore court dismissed his final appeal for a stay of execution.
Critics have described Singapore's tradition of photographing inmates scheduled for execution as tasteless and cruel, although the authorities themselves have never offered any explanation of the practice which some say borders on the macabre.
A similar photo shoot was carried out for Malaysian Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who was hanged in April despite an outpouring of international concern over his intellectual disability, which would render his execution illegal under the international treaties endorsed by Singapore.
Nagaenthran had posed in a similar setting, wearing a collared T-shirt, jeans and a pair of sneakers.
Singapore rights activist M Ravi was among those who had questioned the photo shoot for prisoners condemned to death.
"They used to say, in China they would ask the family to buy the bullet or something like that, or to choose or something like that, so in Singapore, you have this kind of macabre, this kind of… it is another form of punishment, cruelty," the prominent lawyer said on a recent episode of MalaysiaNow's Talk, Now programme.
"Until today, I cannot figure out the reason, no official response on this."
He also recalled how the mother of Singaporean Shanmugam Murugesu, who was executed in 2005, had shown him smiling photographs of her son, taken just before his death.
"She said these are the pictures they gave just before he was executed, and it’s like so many pictures. He was like a model, behind the table, all in a suit, and then you give the family and then they hang the picture. I just don’t understand why they have to do all this. That is why this kind of cruelty is just unbelievable," Ravi said.
Singapore has stubbornly defended its death penalty for drug traffickers, although critics say many who have been executed over the years were drug mules from poor families, while the real kingpins have largely escaped.
The city-state has also moved in recent months to silence activists and lawyers who represent death row inmates, slapping them with exorbitant fines after accusing them of breaching procedures.