By Ashman Adam | Malay Mail

(From left) Constitutional Law Committee co-chair Andrew Khoo, Malaysian Bar president AG Kalidas, Human Rights Committee co-chairs Yohendra Nadarajah and New Sin Yew at the High Commission of the Republic of Singapore in Kuala Lumpur, November 2, 2021. — MIERA ZULYANA

The Malaysian Bar has submitted a letter of appeal to the Singaporean High Commission seeking clemency for a Malaysian sentenced to death on drug charges in the island nation.

Malaysian Bar President AG Kalidas said that the letter urging the Singapore government to commute the sentence of Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam was based on the fact that his mental capacities have diminished since his punishment was given out.

The letter of appeal was co-signed by the Malaysian Bar, the Advocates Association of Sarawak, and the Sabah Law Society.

“Basically, we have asked for clemency for Nagaenthran from His Excellency the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore and Her Excellency the President of Singapore. We are hoping that the sentence will be commuted.

“Our plea is based on the fact that we learned after he was convicted, his mental health has diminished. That is what our plea is based on,” he said.

Andrew Khoo, co-chair of the Bar’s Constitutional Law Committee, said that since Malaysia is now part of the United Nations Human Rights Council, it should play a more active role in advocating against the sentence.

“One of the statements the government relied upon in seeking election was the fact that they are in support of a worldwide moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

“So, here is a situation where although it is not in Malaysia, it involves a Malaysian, and a fellow ASEAN government member. So, the question we put to the government of Malaysia is, ‘what can you do about this, what are you going to do about this?’” he said.

He added that the government has not commented about the matter publicly or revealed if any effort was underway on Nageathren’s behalf.

“I think it is not enough to just say that we are against it. I think the government has to do more, it has to actually try to convince, at least in this region, fellow ASEAN governments to change their approach and attitude towards the death penalty.

“So I would like to openly invite the government, whether it is the Minister of Home Affairs; whether it’s Datuk Saifuddin (Abdullah), the Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Prime Minister himself, to speak to their counterparts in the Singapore government,” he said.

Khoo also urged the Singaporean government to show compassion in this case, adding that this specific case is worthy of commutation due to all its factors and as it involves a mentally diminished individual.

New Sin Yew, co-chair of the Bar’s Human Rights Committee, said that its stance with regards to the death penalty has been clear, and they will continue to fight to remove such draconian punishments.

“The Malaysian Bar has made its stance very clear in regards to the death penalty, that it is a cruel and unusual punishment that should be abolished.

“This is something that we have advocated for the past few decades and we will continue to advocate for the abolishment of the death penalty especially when it concerns a Malaysian,” he said.

Nagaenthran was arrested in 2009 at the age of 21, and charged with importing 42.72g of diamorphine — a strong opioid often used to treat severe pain caused by cancer. During his trial in 2019, he denied knowing the contents of the bundle strapped to his thigh, and told the courtroom that he had delivered it “under pressure”.

He was diagnosed by a qualified Singapore-based psychiatrist with a borderline intellectual disability, with an IQ of 69, before being sentenced to death by the Singaporean government.

On October 26, Nagaenthran’s family received a letter from the Singapore Prison Service informing his family that he would be executed on November 10, 2021.