I did not interfere in S’pore court case over death row inmate, says Liew

De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong says it is ‘untenable’ to allege that there was interference on his part in Singapore’s judicial process.

PETALING JAYA: De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong today denied he had interfered in a recent court case in Singapore which led to the execution of a Malaysian drug mule being put on hold after writing a letter to appeal on his behalf.

In a statement, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said it was “obvious” that the Singapore Court of Appeals granted a stay on Pannir Selvam Pranthaman’s execution after considering “the prevailing circumstances and the rule of law applicable to the case”.

It was, therefore “untenable” to allege that there was interference on his part in the republic’s judicial process, he said.

“The allegation that I have interfered with their judicial system is totally unfounded and baseless. It’s purely a figment of imagination on someone’s part,” Liew said, adding that Malaysia respected the decision of the Singapore court.

He also pointed out that the court in Singapore only granted a temporary reprieve to Pannir to allow him to exhaust his legal and constitutional rights by engaging a competent counsel of his choice.

“It is an absolute abhorrent to justice if he is denied such basic rights and gets executed without being heard,” he said.

Earlier, in giving a detailed account of what had transpired, Liew revealed that he had spoken to a senior official from Singapore’s law ministry, two days before Pannir was to be executed, as he was unable to get in touch with Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

Liew said he also got the go-ahead from Wisma Putra to communicate with the Singapore government and to write an email to them, where he made a representation based on valid legal grounds.

He said that on the same day on Wednesday afternoon, Pannir applied for a stay of the execution based on several legal grounds, including to challenge the prosecution’s rejection of not issuing a certificate on his claim that he had assisted the Singapore police during the investigation to deter a drug activity there.

Pannir also sought to challenge the rejection of the petition for clemency by the Singaporean president, which he claimed was only served on him on the same day his sister was notified of his impending execution.

It was reported that Liew had written a letter to appeal on behalf of Pannir, 31, who was caught trafficking in more than 51g of heroin at the Woodlands Checkpoint in 2014.

Pannir was supposed to be executed on Friday but the Court of Appeal in Singapore granted a stay of execution the day before.

This led to Shanmugam saying it was “not tenable” to make exceptions and stop the execution of Malaysian drug traffickers as it would undermine the rule of law in Singapore.

He also said that some members in the Pakatan Harapan coalition were “ideologically opposed” to the death penalty.