Group accuses Singapore AG of meddling ahead of clemency plea for Malaysian on death row

Lawyers for Liberty adviser N Surendran.

PETALING JAYA: Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has come to the defence of its adviser N Surendran, accusing the Singapore government of interfering in his work as the lawyer representing a Malaysian on death row in the city-state.

LFL said the Singapore Attorney-General’s Chambers’ response to the lawyer’s claim of an “execution binge” in the country amounted to “a serious threat against Surendran”, who has been representing Malaysian death row prisoners including Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, who was granted a last-minute reprieve from execution in May with his appeal for a presidential clemency to be heard this week.

“Singapore is notorious for bringing contempt of court or criminal defamation charges against its critics,” said LFL director Melissa Sasidaran.

“The threat against Surendran is an unlawful interference by the state of Singapore with the death row prisoners’ right to counsel and legal assistance,” she said.

Melissa said the AG’s response was also a breach of Singapore’s constitution which guarantees everyone a fair trial.

“It is a calculated attempt to sabotage Pannir’s legal team, as well as hinder legal assistance from Malaysia for the other Malaysian prisoners.”

Last week, Surendran spoke of what he called “serial hanging” in Singapore, after 10 inmates at Changi prison had their clemency petitions rejected. Four of them are Malaysians convicted of drug-related offences.

“It indicates that Singapore is preparing for an execution binge, in total disregard of international legal norms and decent world opinion,” Surendran said.

Singapore however dismissed the claim that it is targeting Malaysians, saying it applied the 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,” said the home affairs ministry.