Singapore denies targeting Malaysians for capital punishment

Rights lawyer N Surendran says the Singapore government has rejected the clemency petitions of four Malaysians on death row. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Singapore government has dismissed a human rights lawyer’s claim that it was targeting Malaysian prisoners for capital punishment, saying it applied the republic’s laws “equally” to both local and foreign offenders.

“Regardless of nationality, all offenders, including prisoners sentenced to death, are accorded full due process under the law,” Singapore’s home affairs ministry said, the Straits Times reported.

The ministry went on to say that all foreigners in Singapore must abide by the country’s laws and must be prepared for consequences if they chose to break them.

Singapore, it noted, has a “strong rule of law and an independent judiciary”.

The ministry was responding to N Surendran, an adviser to rights group Lawyers for Liberty, who wondered if the republic was preparing for an “execution binge” in view of the number of clemency rejections which he described as “unprecedented and shocking”.

These included the clemency petitions of four Malaysian prisoners.

The former Padang Serai MP also said that the number of simultaneous clemency rejections raised questions as to whether each prisoner’s case was duly considered by Singapore’s Cabinet and President Halimah Yacob.

But the home ministry, according to the Straits Times, said that each clemency petition was considered carefully and that the president “acted on the advice of the Cabinet” in accordance with its constitution.

“The use of capital punishment is an issue that every country has the sovereign right to decide for itself, taking into account its own circumstances.

“There is no international consensus against the use of the death penalty when it is imposed according to due process of law,” the daily reported the ministry as saying.

Singapore, it added, respected the sovereign right of other countries to determine their own legal systems and “expects the same in return.”