S’pore discriminates against Malaysian clients, say lawyers

n-surendran-latifahkoyaPETALING JAYA: Lawyers N Surendran and Latheefa Koya have slammed the blatant discrimination shown by Singapore Prison Authorities in not allowing them to visit their clients in the city state.

Referring to Malaysians S Prabagaran and K Datchinamurthy who are on death row, the lawyers said Singapore should accord the same privilege previously given to an Australian citizen and his lawyer.

“In 2005, Australian Nguyen Tuong Van who was also on death row for drug trafficking, was allowed access to his Australian lawyers. Why then are Prabagaran and Datchinamurthy refused access to their Malaysian lawyers?

“Why are different standards being applied between Australian and Malaysian prisoners by Singapore authorities?” Surendran and Latheefa said in a statement released today.

They added that their applications for access had been rejected by the Singapore Prison Services without any reasons given.

Citing another example where a Singaporean was facing charges in Malaysia that could result in the death penalty, Surendran and Latheefa said the accused’s lawyer from Singapore was allowed access.

“Malaysian prison authorities had allowed access to Singapore lawyer M Ravi in the case of Attiqa, a Singaporean who was facing a capital charge in Malaysia.

“Surely, Singapore should reciprocate and allow us access to our clients,” they said, adding that access to lawyers and the courts was a fundamental right which could not be interfered with.

The lawyers also argued that the Malaysian government could not continue to remain silent over this fundamental breach of the rights of these two Malaysian citizens.

“Malaysia must take up the matter immediately with Singapore and demand that access to Malaysian lawyers be allowed forthwith.

“We urge the Malaysian government to act decisively and expeditiously as the lives of two of our citizens are hanging in the balance.”

Both Prabagaran and Datchinamurthy were found guilty in Singapore of trafficking in diamorphine, a pure form of heroine, in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

They have strenuously maintained their innocence, and repeatedly complained that they were deprived of a fair trial due to a flagrant breach of the doctrine of separation of powers.

Both have petitioned for clemency from the Singapore president but have yet to receive a response.

Last month, Prabagaran and Datchinamurthy filed judicial reviews in the Kuala Lumpur High Court separately, seeking to compel the government to start legal proceedings against Singapore at the International Court of Justice for denying them fair trials.

They also wanted a declaration from the court that the government was obliged to protect their lives and freedom.

However, the KL High Court denied the duo’s leave application to initiate the legal challenge. Their lawyers have filed an appeal on the matter.

Padang Serai (Kedah) MP Surendran and Latheefa are also PKR leaders with the former a vice-president and the latter the party’s legal adviser.