Singapore has scheduled another execution of a man convicted of possession of cannabis, some three weeks after hanging Tangaraju Suppiah for a similar offence despite international protest.
Muhammad Faizal Mohd Shariff, 36, was one of 17 ethnic Malay death row inmates involved in a historic suit accusing the Singapore state of racial bias in its prosecution of capital punishment cases.
The suit was thrown out last year with prominent rights lawyer M Ravi, who represented the prisoners, being slapped with heavy fines after being accused of abuse of process by the attorney-general.
"This is yet another instance of the death penalty being disproportionately applied against the minorities who form a disadvantaged segment of the society, which was recently highlighted by the United Nations in condemning the execution of Tangaraju," said Ravi.
It is understood that Faizal, who was arrested in 2016 with possession of 1.6kg of cannabis, will be executed in the wee hours of May 17, according to practice.
Earlier today, a court of apeal judge threw out an application for his case to be reviewed.
"It is very concerning that 64.9% of the death row inmates are of Malay ethnicity," added Ravi, whose criticism of Singapore's prosecution of drug offenders facing the death penalty resulted in him being suspended for five years.
Ethnic Malays represent just over 13% of the island's population.
"There is even considerable disparity between the percentage of Malays sentenced to death for drug offences, and the percentage of Malays in prison for all offences (about 55%) or the percentage of Malays arrested for drug consumption (49.3%)," he added.
Ravi also repeated his call for a review of Singapore's drug laws, including a study of the disproportionate percentage of ethnic Malays on death row.
"Until such time, all executions must be put on hold," he said.
Last year, two of the 17 plaintiffs in the suit were executed, including Nazeri Lajim, a 64-year-old Singaporean who had been addicted to drugs since the age of 14, and who maintained that the drugs he was caught with were for his personal consumption.
Last month, the Singapore government was heavily criticised over the execution of 46-year old Tangaraju, who was convicted in 2017 of "abetting by engaging in a conspiracy to traffic" 1,017.9g of cannabis.
The case drew attention from the United Nations, rights groups as well as British aviation tycoon Richard Branson, who has frequently criticised Singapore's death penalty for drug trafficking and highlighted how the drug lords who hire mules from poor families have largely escaped punishment.
Critics have spoken of a climate of fear within Singapore's legal fraternity about representing death row inmates, after several vocal lawyers including Ravi were penalised or lost their licence to practise for taking up late-stage death row cases.
The PAP-led Singapore government, which has ruled the republic since its exit from Malaysia, has rejected criticism of its death penalty, saying it has been effective in controlling the drug menace.